On a seemingly regular morning in March this year, residents of Khulna city stumbled upon an unusual discovery.
Shopping bags lay about at various points of the city. Curious, some people opened them up.
Inside each bag were severed parts of a human body.
The head was found in a bag lying beside a drain opposite the Social Services Office. The torso was found on the footpath near Suraksha Clinic under Sonadanga police station. Three plastic bags of the same colour and design were found at different spots, within 3.5 kilometres of each other, containing 11 pieces of the body.
They were all from the upper section. Lower parts of the body could not be found.
Shocked by the gruesome scene, local police, the Rapid Action Battalion, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) started working together to identify the body.
As the only agency equipped with the Fingerprint Identification and Verification System (FIVS) PBI scanned the fingerprints of the victim the following day using a mobile fingerprint scanner.
The fingerprints were then sent by the internet to the verification officer at PBI headquarters, who then forwarded it to the election commission.
The election commission then searched for a match on the national database. Upon finding one, they sent the data back to the central application server at PBI headquarters.
Match or no match, the report is sent to the PBI team on the spot. As there was a match, the PBI team at the spot was able to see the photo and the address of the victim.
The victim was identified as Habibur Rahman of Satkhira Sadar upazila.
Solving the murder
Since the head was found at Khulna Sadar, a murder case was filed at the local police station. The body parts were kept at the morgue of Khulna Medical College Hospital.
After confirming the identity, police contacted Habib's family through the chairman of Satkhira Sadar union. The family members came to Khulna for a positive identification, following which, the remains were handed over to them.
After being granted court permission, PBI teams took the lead in the investigation.
Habib went missing four days before his body parts were discovered. His phone-call records led police to three primary suspects based on the people he had last spoken to.
Anisur Rahman, the police super of Khulna PBI, who supervised the investigation, said, "Two people involved in the killing were identified three days after the incident. The PBI arrested one of them and RAB detained the other suspect."
During initial interrogation, Asaduzzaman Asad and Anupam Halder, confessed to the murder.
The PBI investigation officials said five members of a criminal gang were involved in the killing, all of whom had met Habib in jail.
Mostafa Mamun, a member of the gang, gave his wife's mobile number to Habib, who was due to be let out on bail soon. Mamun requested Habib call her and tell her to manage bail for Mamun. When Habib came out on bail, he contacted Mamun's wife.
Eventually, Mamun's wife and Habib had an extramarital affair. Claiming he was going to manage bail for Mamun, Habib took jewellery and a large sum of money from Mamun's wife.
Mamun had already come to know of the affair while still in jail.
When he got out of prison on bail, Mamun planned to kill Habib, and informed Asad and Anupam.
Later, Asad phoned Habib and convinced him to come to his rented house.
At first, they sedated Habib by spiking his food. Then they slit his throat.
Afterwards, they chopped the body into pieces, put some parts into the shopping bags and dumped them at different points in the city. The PBI found the remaining body parts under a bed in Asad's rented house.
Anisur Rahman, special super of Police at Khulna PBI office, told The Business Standard, "Four people involved in the killing have been arrested, and three of them have confessed at court. A charge-sheet was submitted at court last month accusing five people of the murder. However, Mamun has fled to India."
The PBI said that after murdering Habib, the accused cut the body into pieces, hoping it would make identification impossible, thus leaving the case unsolved.
However, all PBI needed was a set of fingerprints to solve the crime.
No more unidentified bodies
Mostafa Kamal Rashed, additional special police superintendent and head of the PBI forensic lab, told The Business Standard, "16 murders were solved in the last five months using FIVS."
The PBI has also been using the technology to identify victims killed in fire, road and rail accidents.
He said FIVS is used to identify bodies, fingerprint slips of arrested suspects, in recording information of witnesses, and identifying fake national ID card holders.
Although PBI had begun experimenting with FIVS since 2016, it only succeeded in using it by the end of 2018.
At present, the technology is being used in 41 units of the PBI in 38 districts, including Dhaka. In the last five months, 76 bodies were identified using this technology. Of them, 61 were male and 15 were female.
PBI chief DIG Banaj Kumar Majumder said that after various experiments, this technology is now being used successfully to solve murder cases and to identify bodies that could not have been identified before.
PBI is the first agency to start using this technology in Bangladesh. Thailand has been using this for about 15 years, and neighbouring India for the last few years.