He refused to pay the policemen the amount they wanted, so they picked him up from his home and took him to the police station. In police custody, the man was tortured for hours. He died from internal hemorrhage.
The incident took place on July 13, 2014, and subsequently the widow of the deceased filed a case against 10 police personnel with a Dhaka court. It was the second case under the Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Act-2013.
But the abduction of the plaintiff, harassment case, and other forms of police pressure forced the family of the deceased garment scrap businessman Mahabubur Rahman Sujon to give up hope for justice.
Trial of the case, which was filed nearly six years ago, is now on hold as the High Court (HC) has stayed it.
One of the main accused in the case, former Mirpur police Sub-Inspector Jahidur Rahman, is now in jail after being sentenced to life imprisonment in the first case under the Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Act.
Lawyers and Sujon's family said trial proceedings of the case can resume if the state counsel moves to get the HC stay order cancelled.
After accepting the case filed by Sujon's wife Mamtaj Sultana Lucy, the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court ordered a judicial inquiry in 2014.
The investigation found that SI Jahid, ASI Raj Kumar, Constable Asad, Rashedul and Mithun were involved in custodial torture and death. The inquiry dropped the names of five other accused in the case, including that of the then Mirpur police OC Salah Uddin.
The trial began in January 2016, with January 6 set for recording testimony.
According to Sujon's family, his wife Lucy was abducted from the courtyard on that day, and remained missing. Lucy would not tell the family where she had been after she returned.
Mysteriously, Sujon's wife then snapped all communications with her in-laws and has remained untraced since then.
Chief Prosecutor of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court Abdullah Abu said the main accused in the case Jahid filed a writ with the HC seeking a stay on the trial saying Lucy -- the plaintiff and also a witness – did not appear before the court. The HC then paused the trial, which is still in effect.
The Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA), the organization which helped Lucy in filing the case against the police, alleged that former police SI Jahid had been influencing the case from the very beginning.
"Lucy went missing. Then she was managed by police into not continuing with the case," said BNWLA President Advocate Salma Ali.
Salma Ali said the plaintiff no longer moves for the case and the association has also failed to reach her in the last three years.
"No means or address is available to contact her," she added.
The then Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Mirpur Police Station Salah Uddin was accused in the case. The BNWLA from the very beginning had been expressing concern over the fate of the case as the judicial inquiry dropped the OC from the accusation.
In 2016, Salah Uddin was killed in the attack on Holey Artisan café in Dhaka's Gulshan while on duty.
Sujon's family 'framed' in narcotics case
In the last one year, police named Sujon's mother Shaheda Begum and two brothers Sabuj and Sumon in a narcotics case. Police said the trio sheltered members of a yaba syndicate at their Mirpur residence.
In February last year, 62-year-old Shaheda got arrested in the case and was behind bars for six months before she secured bail.
I have given up hope for justice for Sujon's murder because demanding justice will do nothing but invite trouble
"I have given up hope for justice for Sujon's murder because demanding justice will do nothing but invite trouble," she told The Business Standard.
Shaheda said she is now worried about the safety of her two sons. "We are just common people and the accused are too powerful," she added.
Meantime, Advocate Salma Ali said the mother and brothers were named in a false case to prevent them from continuing with the Sujon murder case.
She added, "The former SI dictated the case despite being in jail. Besides, the family members are facing numerous instances of police harassment."
Plaintiff "did not insist" on appeal against HC stay
Deputy Attorney General Biswajit Debnath told The Business Standard that the Attorney General's Office might have missed out on the matter as the incident took place quite long ago.
He said the attorney general himself argued in the HC hearing against the writ seeking the stay.
Yes, the state is responsible for appeals in such cases. But the plaintiff was supposed to insist and continue communications with us. But they did not
He was asked why the state counsel did not appeal against it. In reply, the deputy attorney general said, "Yes, the state is responsible for appeals in such cases. But the plaintiff was supposed to insist and continue communications with us. But they did not."
Police was "active" in hushing up misdeeds
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik observed that police tried to cover up their misdeeds in both the first and second cases under the Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Act-2013.
He said policemen who are still in service did everything, including managing the plaintiffs to protect their crooked colleague.
"In the Jonny murder case, all their efforts went in vain. But in the Sujon murder case, we heard that they have managed the plaintiff, leaving the case in limbo," added Shahdeen Malik.
The lawyer termed the recent verdict in the Jonny murder case remarkable, in which three former policemen, including Jahid, were fined and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Jonny and Sujon were killed in the same year and ex-SI Jahid is the main accused in both cases. The lawyer believes there is reluctance on the part of the state in the prosecution of such cases.
The state must ensure justice as stipulated in the constitution. The state did not fail here, but it is reluctant
"The state must ensure justice as stipulated in the constitution. The state did not fail here, but it is reluctant," he concluded.
Except for Jahid, the other accused in the Sujon murder case went into hiding after getting bail from the HC.
Jahid's lawyer Faruk Hossen said the plaintiff was not willing to testify in this case as she did not appear in court. Other witnesses also did not turn up before the court. Therefore, it was not possible to continue the proceedings of the case.