A 15-year-old film actor was killed in an alleged ‘gunfight’ between mugging suspects and police on Toyenbee Circular Road at Wari in Dhaka early Friday, as claimed by the police.
The family, however, alleged that the boy, Rakib Howlader, a school dropout who played the role of a child character in a movie titled ‘Bhalo Amake Bashte Habey’ produced by his father Mohsin Howdaler, was picked up on April 4 and killed in custody.
According to his birth certificate issued by Dhaka South City Corporation, Rakib was born on February 1, 2003.
Rakib was the second child killed in ‘gunfight’ as a child rape suspect was killed in a reported gunfight with members of Rapid Action Battalion at Dulahazra of Chakaria upazila in Cox’s Bazar on April 1.
In the April 1 incident, the battalion claimed that the victim Abdur Rahim was 21-year-old but the police said he was underage.
In reaction, National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque on Friday said that any extrajudicial killing in the name of crossfire or gunfight was a crime and when the victim was a child, it would be a ‘worst sin’.
‘We all know that the state has separate mechanism to deal with jubilant delinquency,’ he said, adding that the perpetrators should be identified.
Wari police station officer-in-charge Rafiqul Islam, however, claimed that Rakib was 22-year-old and was the prime suspect in killing of Daffodil University student Khandaker Abu Talha in October 2017.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police said that Rakib was named in three cases — Talha murder case, mugging case of October 2017, and Muktar Hossain murder case of April 2.
Police officials said that he was earlier arrested on October 10, 2017 just two days after the killing of Talha.
Talha, a second year computer science student of Daffodil University, was stabbed to death by muggers near his Tikatuli house in the morning on October 8, 2017.
With Rakib, media reported deaths of at least 46 people in this year until April 6 in incidents of ‘gunfight’ or extrajudicial killings in the country.
Wari police station sub-inspector Shah Alam claimed that a group of eight or nine suspected muggers opened fire on a police patrol team behind Bangladesh Homeopathic Medical College Hospital at about 3:20am.
Police also retaliated by firing triggering a gunfight, he said.
After the gunfight the police chased the gang and nabbed two – Sahed Hossain alias Simanta alias Fala, 20, and Zakir Hossain, 18 – and found another bullet-hit suspect.
The injured was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where on-duty doctors declared him dead. Police recovered a dagger and two machetes from the spot, the police officer said.
Rakib’s mother Rita Howlader, however, alleged that he was killed in police custody.
She was wailing at the morgue of Dhaka Medical College after she was informed by her father Abdul Latif, a local Awami League activist.
She told reporters at the morgue that Wari police station sub-inspector Jyotish Chandra Roy picked up Rakib from Captan Bazar at about 10:30pm on April 4.
She came to know about the arrest, and went to Wari police station at about 11:00am on Thursday.
‘I was inside the police station and saw from a little distance that SI Jyoti [Jyotish] dragged my handcuffed son to the room of the OC [officer-in-charge]. I heard my son screaming ‘Ma’ [mother],’ she said.
‘I waited until 4:30pm on Thursday and returned home for a while and once I returned the police station, the cops chased me and got me out of the police station,’ she said, adding, ‘finally I came to know about the killing this [ Friday] evening.’
Wari police station sub-inspector Shah Alam denied that Rakib was in their custody. ‘Rather, the snatchers including Rakib had opened fire seeing a police patrol team.’
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