Poet, writer and researcher Farhad Mazhar was found in Jessore Monday late night, more than 18 hours into his alleged abduction from the capital.
Law enforcers said they found Mazhar on a bus near Noapara in Jessore around 11:30pm.
RAB-6 commanding officer Khandaker Rafiqul Islam told New Age around 12:40am that they took Mazhar to Fultola Police Station in Khulna from where he would be sent to Dhaka.
Jessore superintendent of police Anisur Rahman said that Mazhar was traced by tracking down the position of his cell phone.
Mazhar’s daughter Chaumtoli Huq told New Age that the family had talked to Mazhar when he was in police custody.
Unidentified people reportedly abducted Mazhar from near his house in the capital’s Shyamoli around 5:00am on the day.
Farhad later made a phone call to his wife Farida Akhter about 5:30am in a ‘panicked voice’ and told her ‘they are taking me away. They will kill me,’ the family said and termed it an incident of abduction.
Later on, in another call, he told Farida, executive director of agricultural research group Ubinig and organiser of Nayakrishi Andolan, to arrange Tk 30 to Tk 35 lakh for his release.
Police said Farhad made several calls after 5:30am, but switched the phone off after the calls and his family
approached police towards 7:30am.
The Adabar police station officials said a missing complaint diary was filed by Farida Akhter, who told her fellows around 5:00pm that the police took note of what happened since morning.
Farida told New Age that she would not speak to the press about ‘it’ for she ‘was advised by certain quarters not to make any public statement about the incident for the sake of his security’.
Farhad was last seen publicly at a news conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Sunday along with recently-released daily Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman and other journalists protesting at the killing of Muslims in India in the name of ‘saving cow’.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Tejgaon crime division deputy commissioner Biplob Kumar Sarkar said Farhad usually goes to bed by 9:00pm and wakes up between 3:00am to 4:00am to do his research.
On the day, Biplob said, Farida saw Farhad working at his computer after 3:30pm and after 4:00am she found Farhad was not in his chair.
The family said he left his most-used phone at house and took with him another one he used on and off.
Biplob, who went to the house of Farhad after 9:00am, said he watched CCTV camera footage of the building, which showed Farhad leaving around 5:05am in a ‘casual mood’.
He said there was no CCTV camera outside the building so police were yet to trace what happened outside.
Mohammad Ali, one of the three security guards who were on duty at the gate, said he saw Farhad walking out of the building but did not follow him further.
Biplob said they were tracking the mobile phone used by Farhad and it was found at different locations in south-western region of the country.
When police were visiting his house, Farhad made another call from the same phone and asked Farida to keep ready around Tk 30 to Tk 35 lakh, he said.
‘Police set up check-posts and were checking vehicles on various routes of South-Western region,’ he said.
Biplab said they were yet to ascertain who had abducted him or what their motive was and hoped that police would be able to rescue Farhad.
The investigators said Farhad was being taken through Gabtali, Faridpur, Magura, Jessore and finally his location was traced at Sonadanga in Khulna about 5:00pm.
Rapid Action Battalion-6 commanding officer Rafikul Islam said they launched block-raid after pointing out the last location of his mobile phone.
‘We found nothing until now [9:30pm],’ said Rafikul.
Farhad Mazhar was born in 1947 and also was attributed as social and human rights activist and environmentalist.
According to New York Times in 1995, Farhad Mazhar, poet, intellectual, journalist, researcher and activist in agriculture and economic development, was incarcerated in Dhaka without trial or charge on July 30 under the Special Powers Act of 1974.
He graduated with honours in pharmacy from the University of Dhaka in 1967 and worked as a pharmacist in New York in the seventies and eighties. Mazhar also studied political economy in New School of Social Research.
He is the founding member and managing director of Ubinig (Policy Research for Development Alternative).
Before his rescue, his wife Farida Akhtar held a late night press briefing at her Shaymoli residence, where she sought assistance of all concerned, at home and abroad, in rescuing Mazhar.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafarullah Chowdhury also attended the press conference.
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