No real progress in probeMuktadir Rashid
The murder of journalist couple Golam Mustafa Sarwar Sagar and Meherun Nahar Runi remained buried in mystery to the frustration of their families as Rapid Action Battalion was yet to make any real progress in the investigation two years after the grisly killings.
The RAB investigators so far found no clues to the mystery and the investigation remained almost suspended for over one year due to non-arrival of the DNA reports from a private lab in the United States.
Investigators arrested some suspects at different times but failed to trace the killers or establish the motive for the double murder that had shocked the nation.
‘We are still optimistic about the investigation,’ claimed RAB’s additional director general Colonel Ziaul Ahsan. ‘We are waiting for the completion of the DNA reports.’ He told New Age.
Maasranga Television news editor Sarwar Sagar and his wife ATN Bangla senior reporter Meherun Runi were stabbed to death in the bedroom of their rented flat at Pashchim Rajabazar in Dhaka on February 11, 2012.
Both journalists were stabbed repeatedly. Sarwar’s hands were tied round his back, and no valuables went missing.
After a long investigation and data analysis, the RAB official admitted that both the police and RAB had failed to handle the case properly immediately after the killings, which, he said, was causing the delay.
He claimed that ‘crime scene management was also very poor in the case.’
The investigators sent the DNA samples of 17 people for tests to a private laboratory in the United States. The US laboratory in a letter to the RAB authorities had said that it would take time to complete the DNA report of one of the accused, Enamul Haque.
RAB has spent more than Tk 81, 00,000 only on DNA tests in the US lab instead of using the laboratory in Bangladesh for the same tests.
But, the DNA test results RAB so far has received could not identify any of the suspects who might have been involved in the killings, the investigators said.
A national DNA laboratory official in Dhaka, however, said that DNA tests could be done in Bangladesh and it was a matter of couple of days.
‘We are frustrated, but still hope that investigators will reveal the motive behind the killings,’ said Runi’s brother Nawsher Alam Roman, also the case plaintiff.
After visiting the crime scene, the then home minister Sahara Khatun had told reporters that the law enforcers were ordered to find out and arrest the killers in 48 hours.
Just as the 48-hour timeframe ended, inspector general of police Hassan Mahmood Khandkar had claimed that ‘substantial progress’ had been made in the investigation and made an assurance that positive news would be given by anytime.
Amid speculation over arrests and detentions, Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Monirul Islam on February 16, 2012 had told the media that some suspects were under ‘close watch.’
The High Court on April 18, 2012 directed the police chief to hand over the investigation from the Detective Branch to the RAB after the DB declared their failure in a nine-week investigation.
RAB in its investigation in the first 10 months interrogated 127 people and arrested eight suspects.
Amid continued protests by journalists, Sahara Khatun’s successor, the then home minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir in 2012 had announced that seven suspects had been identified through DNA tests.
Of the suspects, RAB arrested Rafiqul Islam, Mohammad Sayeed, Bakul Miah and Mintu Islam, who were earlier detained as suspects in the murder of a physician, Rudra Palash, the security guard of the house where the couple lived, driver Kamrul Hasan Arun and the couple’s friend Tanvir Rahman. Of them, three are now in jail.
The home minister announced a Tk 10 lakh bounty on Enamul Haque, who had been on the run, according to RAB, before being arrested on February 9, 2013.
The security guard, Enamul, however, denied he was involved in the killings.
None of the eight ever made confessional statement in the case.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes press freedom worldwide, demanded that the Bangladesh authorities should ensure justice to the victims and their families.
Rights group Odhikar in its Freedom of Media report said that at least 25 journalists were killed, 1,398 wounded, 100 arrested, 1,263 threatened and 683 prosecuted between January 2001 and August 2013.
Most of the cases of journalist murders are still pending for trial amid repeated government assurances of ‘fair investigation and trial,’ according to families of the victims, the police and rights groups.
Asked about the issue, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, media adviser to the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina told New Age recently, ‘The government is committed to ensuring justice.’
A file photo shows journalist couple Mehrun Runi and Sagar Sarwar.
Visitors stand in front of a model crime-scene, a part of the photo exhibition on the murder of journalist couple Shagar-Runi, organised by their family members at Drik Gallery in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo
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