by William Gomes
(April 22, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a military-dominated paramilitary force composed of armed forces and the police, held two cousins incommunicado for four days. The victims have been identified as Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib and Mr. Kawsar Hossain Razib, who were arrested without any specific charge on 5 and 6 April 2011 in the evening on two separate occasions respectively from their neighbourhood in the city of Dhaka.
The torture perpetrated by the RAB included beating, nailing and electrocution while in detention.
The two victims were also taken in the open air in the early hours to kill in the pretext of “crossfire”, which is the official form of extrajudicial killing the RAB is habituated of committing regularly since its inception.
The victims were granted bail by the courts for their severe injuries as a result of torture. Like innumerous similar incidents there has been no credible investigation into this case let alone any prosecution or punishment of the RAB perpetrators who enjoy blatant impunity in Bangladesh.
Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib:
Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib, aged 25, is a transport businessman, married with one child. Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib was explain the story torture to Srilanka Guardian while they hiding in fear of get disappear by RAB.
Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib said to Srilanka Guardian that on the evening of 5 April, at around 9:30pm, Sazib, left his home to buy some groceries for the family. A team of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), who were in black uniforms at that time, stopped him near to his family’s transport business office at Chandkharpul area.
He said that one of them asked Sazib’s name and occupation and immediately after his replies to the questions the members of the RAB accused him to be a “snatcher”. All of a sudden the RAB personnel blindfolded and put a death-mask on Sazib’s head.
They put him on a silver colour microbus, bearing registration number Dhaka Metro-Cha 11- 6732, which had “RANGS Limited” on the back of the vehicle. The car was driven to the RAB-10 camp adjacent to the Lalbagh Fort said Sazib.
Sazib was taken to the first floor of the camp. An officer asked his and his father’s name. As Sazib replied to the questions the officer told that, “I was looking for you!” The officer took a thick stick and started hitting Sazib’s legs.
He also said As a result of torture Sazib lost his consciousness. Then, a doctor, who is also an officer of the RAB, came to examine him. The doctor used a spray on his legs and gave him some medicine. Then, Sazib was given a juice pack to drink for which the death mask was taken off although the blindfold was still on his eyes. When the juice was drunk the death mask was put back as usual. Then, the toes of his legs were clipped with hasco tags electric wires that were plugged with the power outlet to electrocute him on several occasions in the night. They served him food with rice, potato-smash and spinach.
On 6 April at around 2:30pm, Sazib was informed that one of the superior officers came to the RAB-10 camp where he was detained. He was produced before that officer, who asked his colleagues about the reason of arresting Sazib. In response, one of the officers of the arresting team, told that the arrest was made on “suspicion” and “efforts are in progress to get the details”. Then the senior office told his junior colleagues, “OK, beat him more! Make your reports and then release (him)!” Thereafter, Sazib was transferred to another room on the same floor. In the evening, the doctor came again to examine and give medicine to Sazib.
Sazib said to Srilanka Guardian that in the early morning of 7 April, at around 3am, the RAB members took Sazib another room, about 25 steps away from the room where he was detained. They tortured him brutally for a long time using various tools in several methods. They pushed needle in Sazib’s fingers and rubbed a sharp metal to reduce the length of his fingernails. Then, they used a spray to hide the wounds of the fingers.
Explaining the brutal to Srilanka Guardian Sazin said that In the Lalbagh camp of the RAB-10 torture took place every night while four to five personnel of RAB sat on Sazib’s leg and beat the soles of his feet with blunt weapons. Apart from beatings and electrocution, they pushed sticks through the ear causing bleeding from the ears. They also pushed needle in his palms and the fingers underneath the fingernails. Later, they cut the nails and sprayed some chemical (colour) since then the wounds were normally invisible. Whenever Sazib asked what wrong he had done or what crime he had committed for which he had been tortured the RAB members did not answer to the questions but continued torturing him.
Sazib continued to story and said at around 2:30am, early in the morning on 8 April, around 3 persons came into the room where Sazib was detained. The new-comers brutally kicked him and pressed the calf muscle areas of his legs with boots. They also electrocuted him on several occasions. The torture went on for few hours until Sazib lost his consciousness.
On 8 April at night, an RAB personnel came to the dark room where Sazib was detained and asked him to complete his “wudu” (ablution) suggesting to reciting Surah Yasin and Surah Ar-Rahman (of the Holy Qur’aan) from two small pamphlets. Sazib followed the perpetrators’ instructions accordingly and recited the verses of the Qur’aan repeatedly. At around the midnight, they came to the room again and started beating him with thick sticks. They also electrocuted him. At around 1:30am, in the early morning on 9 April, they put Sazib and Razib together in a microbus and drove through Palashi to Eden College toward the New Market direction.
Mr. Kawsar Hossain Razib:
Mr. Kawsar Hossain Razib, aged 24, has a petty business of plastic bottle in the old town of the city of Dhaka. Razib’s family lives in 9/3 Hosseni Dalan Road under the jurisdiction of the Lalbagh police station of the metropolitan city of Dhaka.
Mr. Kawsar Hossain Razib Mr. Nahidul Haque Sazib was explaining the story torture to Srilanka Guardian while they hiding in fear of get disappear by RAB.
He said on 6 April 2011, at around 8pm, Razib came out of the local mosque, near to his house, after offering his evening prayer along with his father Mr. Awlad Hossain. On the street outside the home a team of plain-clothed members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) comprising around eight persons stopped him.
They asked Razib to accompany them for “interrogation”. When Razib claimed that he was not involved in any type of criminal activities and asked why he should go with them, the members of the RAB told, “Keep your mouth shut!”
Razib’s father Mr. Awlad Hossain and elder brother Ronny came asked the reason of picking up Razib, the RAB members opened their guns and threatened to kill Awlad and Ronny, said Awlad
Immediately, they blindfolded him with a black cloth and covered the head with a death-mask and then handcuffed him. They put Razib in a microbus bearing registration number Dhaka Metro-Cha 11- 6732, which seemed to be a private car, and left the place, said the eyewitness.
Razib told Srilanka Guardian that Razib was taken to the office of the RAB-10 adjacent to the Lalbagh Fort in the city of Dhaka. They kept Razib waiting for about an hour in his blindfolded condition. After that, he was taken to one of the senior officers of the RAB-10 in the office room in the same building where he was placed on a chair in a seated position putting the legs on another chair while the hands were handcuffed and tied behind his back and tortured with hockey-sticks on the soles of his feet. The RAB electrocuted him clipping two wires with the toes keeping him in the same position. After torturing him for about an hour he sent back to a room. He was served some leftover food, which was not edible. Around half an hour later, Razib was again brought to a room.
He said that he was trembling due to severe injuries in his legs due to torture just an hour ago. The RAB members asked “Why don’t you walk properly?” Razib replied that he had serious pain in his legs. Then, they told that “We will apply nix (ointment). Which leg do you feel more pain?” When Razib replied that he had pain in his right leg, the RAB started beating him with hockey-sticks again in his right leg.
Razib said that they pushed needles into his fingers and toes. As a result of severe beating and nailing when Razib was unable to stand on his own feet, the perpetrators asked him to “Stand up!” When Razib replied that he could not stand, the RAB personnel electrocuted him by connecting a metal having electric connection with his body, which made him jump from the floor due to electric shock, and then they ridiculed him by saying, “You lied that you cannot stand. See! You can jump too!” During torturing on several occasions in such brutal method the officers of the RAB-10 insisted him to confess according to instructions before the superior officers.
When Razib claimed that he was innocent the RAB officers tortured him further and used abused language aim at his mother. Immediately, Razib protested and asked, “Why are you abusing my mother? What is mother’s offence here?” Then, they increased torture, which caused lacerations in his legs, back and hands. In order escape torture Razib agreed to deliver a confession to their superior officers in whatever manner they instructed him. Since the arrest and detention the RAB tortured Razib in their custody after intervals and detained him a dark room adjacent to the armory of the RAB-10.
Razib continued crying and expressing the brutal torture to Srilanka Guardian and said that on 7 April, Razib was put in a vehicle, which drove to another place, to place before a superior office who he could not see due to the blindfold and death-mask, which he had been wearing during the whole period of detention. Before taking to the superior officer the RAB members repeatedly insisted Razib to “confess” his crimes to the superior officer as instructed. The RAB threatened to kill both cousins together in “crossfire” when Razib claimed to be innocent. They also threatened to fabricate an arms case and murder case unless the instructed “confession” was not delivered to their senior officer. In order to escape further torture he agreed to say the instructed confession to the senior officer, who also tortured him in that office after he was introduced as a “snatcher”.
After the midnight of 8 April the RAB put Razib and Sazib, who happen to be cousins to each other, in a vehicle and drove toward the Azimpur area although the cousins did not know or see that they were in the same vehicle due to the blindfolds and death-masks. On board, the blindfolds and death-mask were taken off and both cousins saw each other in a similar condition – handcuffed, tortured and seriously injured – under the custody of the RAB. When Razib and Sazib hugged each other and cried out the RAB personnel tortured both of them again. During torture the RAB officers pushed a cloth into Razib’s mouth so that he could not cry for help. The car was driven toward various directions for a long time.
The RAB took Razib and Sazib in the open air on the bank of the Buriganga river at the Swari Ghat area of the city of Dhaka to kill them in “crossfire”, which is the officially publicized method of extrajudicial killing by the RAB, as being also followed by the Police and other agencies in Bangladesh. The RAB officers asked Razib and Sazib to run away. Both cousins did not follow that instruction as they were aware of the “crossfire” method, which is conducted when the detainees run following such instructions. Instead, both persons held the legs of the officers of the RAB, who put them in the vehicle again following repeated appeals for not to kill and drove back to its Lalbagh camp where they were detained for the whole day. In several occasions they tortured Razib and Sazib and said that smaller cases will be fabricated against them for which they (Razib and Sazib) would have to stay in prison only for two or three months.
Two night guards of the Azimpur Staff Quarters were brought to the vehicle and instructed by the RAB members to sign on a piece of paper. The RAB also asked the night guards to see the faces of Razib and Sazib as “snatchers” so that they can testify before the Courts when required. The two night guards followed the instructions accordingly while it was almost dawn. Then, one of the RAB officers told that “There was order to kill you. You might have done good deeds in your life. That’s why you are not being killed. You are going to be released in a normal case. Keep offering prayers; don’t tell the story (of torture and detention) to anyone; live a good life!” In response, when Sazib told that he used to live a good life keeping offering his prayers regularly and asked, “Why did you torture me?” After the question the RAB members abused him in filthy language and took him back to the RAB-10 Office while Razib was taken to the Mitford Hospital (Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital-SSMCH) for treatment.
At the RAB-10 Office Sazib was taken to a senior officer, who shouted at Sazib very rudely while torturing him brutally. The officer asked, “How dare you made the high-ranking persons like ministers and parliamentarians to call us? You show up your power! Let me show you my power now!” There several members of the RAB including the officer tortured him until around 11:30am in the morning. After torture Sazib was transferred to a room in the first floor next to the armory.
At around 2pm, Razib was brought back from the hospital where he was treated in his legs with first aid. The RAB officers warned Sazib and Razib to remain careful in future and not to tell the incident to anyone else in life. The RAB made a photo session pasting the names on the chests of the two cousins putting two knives that were kept on a table in their office. They introduced Razib and Sazib, wrongly writing the name as Mozib, as “snatchers” on the name tags. Two knives were kept on a table in front of Razib and Sazib at the time when the photos were taken by the RAB members.
At around 3pm, the RAB brought the two cousins to the Lalbagh police and handed over them to the police. Police officials said that Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of the RAB-10, Md. Abu Bakor Siddik accompanied Razib and Sazib to the police station and asked the on duty officer to register a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 4(1) of the Law and Order Breaching Crimes (Speedy Trial) (Amendment) Act-2010 with the Lalbagh police station. The police official said that the Lalbagh police primarily argued with the RAB regarding inappropriateness of the provisions of the Law and Order Breaching Crimes (Speedy Trial) (Amendment) Act-2010. The RAB personnel pursued the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Lalbagh police and the Assistant Commissioner (AC) of the Lalbagh Zone for registering the complaint. They also insisted the police to show the two persons’ own cell phones and money as “snatched goods”, which the police refused to do. Finally, the police recorded the case as FIR no. 11 dated 9 April showing that it was recorded at 2:45pm.
In the complaint DAD Siddik claims that a plain-clothed team of six members of the RAB-10, including him and five other named colleagues, came under attack from a group of snatchers at 1:10am, in the early morning of 9 April 2011 near the Eden College area. Two persons were arrested while two others escaped from the scene. A 12-inch-long stainless steel knife and another locally-made-iron knife were seized from Razib and Sazib respectively with the help of the local night guards. Razib fell on the road while attempted to escape and received injuries.
The Lalbagh police did not torture Razib and Sazib in their custody while the two cousins were detained in the Lalbagh police station. They took Razib and Sazib to the Mitford Hospital (Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital-SSMCH) for treatment. Both were admitted to the Ward No. 101, Casualty Ward of the Mitford Hospital.
Court officials said that on 10 April, the police produced Razib and Sazib before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court under the snatching case after getting them discharged from the Mitford Hospital although the two cousins’ injuries remained unhealed. The Court observed that they were tortured as there were no specific statement regarding the injuries of the two cousins supported by the medical record, which mentioned that the victims had “Physical assault and generalized body assault”. The Magistrate granted bail to both persons on a bond of BDT 10,000.00 each with guarantee from the lawyers and local elites until the next hearing on 21 April.
Since the families of Razib and Sazib communicated with journalists and human rights defenders the RAB members have started intimidating the relatives on phone and in person. Plain clothed members of the RAB, who came to their houses and business offices, threatened to kill every one of the families if the case is discussed in public any further. The two families have been afraid of further similar or worse atrocities against the members of the families including the two victims while the government has not yet initiated any credible investigation into these heinous crimes.
Meanwhile, Razib and Sazib did not receive adequate medical treatment for the serious injuries they sustained while they were tortured in the custody of the RAB’s custody. After having been released on bail they are forced to hide for their lives and are still unable to arrange necessary treatment.
While communicated with RAB officials about the Torture, the officials denied the allegations and denied to talk about the incident.
Referring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Human Rights Activist Mehedi Hasan said what happened to Razib and Sazib is violations of international human right standard.
Article 5 of the UDHR stated that “No one shall subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
Article 5 of the UDHR stated that “No One shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or Exile”.
Human Rights Activist Mehedi Hasan said that Razib and Sazib was subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention and they were tortured very badly.
Human Rights Activist Mehedi Hasan Urged to authorities of Bangladesh to launch a thorough investigation into the matter immediately asking them to prosecute the perpetrators for the crime beyond any impunity. He also urged to the government that the victims and their relatives must be protected from any further attacks or harassment by the Rapid Action Battalion or the police. Adequate compensation should be afforded to the victim.
He said to Srilanka Guardian that the fabricated case, which has already registered against Razib and Sazib by the RAB, must be dropped. The RAB should be disbanded immediately for committing such heinous crimes.
1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrElF4i2rWM(The Police Taking Sojib and Rajib to Court from DMCH)
2.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMlgC7EfUK8(Torture survivor Rajib explaining the Ways of Torture on the illegal detention of RAB )
3.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW0On2aGuBQ(Torture survivor Sojib explaining the Ways of Torture on the illegal detention of RAB one )
4.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOqxeo-J3TM(Torture survivor sojib explaining the Ways of Torture on the illegal detention of RAB Part Two )
5.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phR20JftvpU(Torture survivors explains the way of Torture by RAB )