Noor Uddin has barely been able to sleep as, since July 22, he has been afraid he will die.
Whenever he closes his eyes at night, he sees Sazzadur Rahman, a sub-inspector (SI) of Ashulia Police Station in Gazipur, shooting him in a dark place, and he wakes up immediately.
A month ago, a group of three people, including police constable Mominur Rahman, allegedly trapped him at his diagnostic centre and pharmacy at Jamgora area in Dhaka's Ashulia at around 11pm, claiming that Noor's shop had illegal materials inside.
After Noor protested the claim and welcomed a police search, Constable Mominur and his two associates entered the pharmacy. At one stage, they demanded Tk10 lakh from him, according to Noor.
After a short while, SI Sazzadur came to the scene and ordered the group to pick up Noor and put him in a crossfire that very night as he did not agree to their demands.
An afraid Noor instantly began to beg for his life but got a bone-chilling reply from Mominur. "Give us the money or be put in a crossfire. The choice is yours," uttered Mominur.
The Business Standard, in an investigation, learned that the robber gang had seven members, spearheaded by SI Sazzadur. Constable Mominur was his second-in-command.
They held different people for ransom, including businessmen, landlords and jobholders, at night, in the area–with the help of some informers–and took money in exchange for their release. If anybody failed to pay them, they were either tortured or indicted in narcotics cases.
Following the July 22 incident, the same gang led by Sazzadur abducted two garment workers – Mohidul Islam Sagor and Alamgir – from a roadside in Ashulia and framed drug cases against them.
Noor Uddin, a small businessman, narrated to The Business Standard about his horrible experience with the police-led robber gang on that fateful night. He agreed to pay them all the cash in his shop.
After getting Tk63,000 from Noor, Constable Mominur said they would be back after two days to take Tk50,000 more.
On July 26, a man, claiming to be a member of the Detective Branch headquartered on Minto Road in the capital, called Noor and asked for the money. Noor immediately rushed to the nearby Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) office to file a complaint.
After receiving the complaint, RAB formed a plan to nab the gang.
When the gang members came to take the money from Noor Uddin, he intentionally began delaying handing it over to them. By that time, RAB members had surrounded the area as per their plan. The gang members had gotten into Noor's pharmacy and RAB members caught them red-handed.
They seized a Noah car, a police jacket, a walkie-talkie, some contraband yaba tablets, and phensedyl from the gang's possession.
Jamir Uddin, acting commander of CPC-2 of RAB 4, told this correspondent that they had arrested four members of the gang, including a police constable, and that four cases had been lodged in this connection with Ashulia Police Station. "All the cases are being investigated by police officials."
However, no case has been filed against SI Sazzadur although CCTV footage of that night shows that the robbery at Noor's pharmacy took place in the presence of Sazzadur. The SI was wielding a pistol on his waist and holding a walkie-talkie in one hand.
When asked about it, Noor said RAB officials themselves framed the cases and he just signed on the papers.
According to the case statement and local sources, Sazzadur has been involved in committing such crimes for a long time; exploiting his police identity. During primary interrogation, Constable Mominur also testified to it.
When contacted, Rezaul Haque Dipu, officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station, denied to comment on the cases as they were currently being investigated.
However, he acknowledged that the seized police jacket and walkie-talkie had been issued in the name of SI Sazzadur.
When asked, Sazzadur Rahman told The Business Standard he was the owner of the Noah car seized by the RAB from the spot.
"However, I was not present at the robbery scene," he claimed.
Sayedur Rahman, additional superintendent of police (Dhaka north), said Sazzadur had been closed following the incident.
Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of police (media), said all the allegations and cases against Sazzadur were being investigated by the authorities concerned under the direction of the court.
Ashulia police stage new drama to trap traders
On the same day, July 22, another allegation was brought against another sub-inspector of Ashulia Police Station, of the filing of a false case against 11 businessmen of Aziz Super Market in Baipail area and 50-60 unknown others.
Abdus Salam, the sub-inspector, mentioned in the case statement that a police team, tipped off that traders were detaining a man, went to the market to rescue him. After the police team reached the market, the traders attacked them. Constables Lal Mia and Mohsin were seriously injured in the incident.
The police statement also said the injured policemen received treatment at Gonoshasthaya Hospital at Nabinagar in Savar.
However, the hospital registry confirmed that no policemen were treated at the hospital on that day.
Seeking anonymity, some traders said Sujon Byapari, a trader who identified himself as a labour leader, developed a liaison with police and used it to extort other traders.
On the day of the incident, traders refused to pay him the money. Sujon called the police, pretending to have been tortured by traders, and filed the case, they also said.