| Dhaka, Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Planners of blogger killing 

Update : 2015-08-19 11:54:08
Planners of blogger killing 

A Bangladesh-born UK citizen, who has been a financier of outlawed terror outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team, planned the killings of secularist bloggers Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das, the Rab claims.

Touhidur Rahman, 58, who went to the UK in the early 1990s and came back to Bangladesh in 2012, employed five Ansarullah members to carry out the killing missions.

He was given the task by Abul Bashar, younger brother of Ansarullah chief Jasimuddin Rahmani.

As instructed, the five operatives -- Sadeque Ali Mithu, Ramjan alias Siam, Nayeem, Julhash Biswas and Jafran Al Hasan -- hacked Avijit to death in Dhaka on February 26 and Ananta in Sylhet on May 12 in a similar way.

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) came up with the version following the arrest of Touhid, Sadeque Ali and another suspected Ansarullah member Aminul Mallick in the capital in the last two days.

“The five killers gathered at the playground of Mohsin Hall [of Dhaka University] three hours before the murder of Avijit,” Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of Rab Legal and Media Wing, said at a press briefing at the elite force headquarters in the capital yesterday.

On that fateful day, they followed Avijit from Ekushey Boi Mela premises and carried out the killing near TSC, said Mufti.

They hacked Avijit, a Bangladeshi-born US citizen, to death and badly wounded his wife Rafida Ahmed near TSC around 8:45pm after the couple came out of the book fair venue.

Four other killers are on the run, said Rab officials.

Detectives have repeatedly said Ansarullah Bangla Team was behind the murders of four bloggers this year.

They claimed to have identified seven suspects in Avijit killing but failed to make any arrest in the last five months.

In the Ananta murder case, Sylhet police arrested a suspect from the city a few days after the incident.

At the press briefing, Mufti said acting on a tip-off, a Rab-3 team detained Sadeque of Laxmipur at the capital's Nilkhet around 10:30pm on Monday.

They detained Touhidur and Aminul, an IT expert hailing from Shariatpur, around 12:20am yesterday from an alley near the Star Kabab in Dhanmondi.

In the evening, the Rab handed over the three arrestees to Detective Branch (DB) of Police, which is investigating the Avijit murder, said sources in both the agencies.

Contacted, Deputy Commissioner Mashrukure Rahman of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said they would see if Rab's claim matches with their findings.

Commander Mufti said Touhidur, 58, who hails from Jessore, has been looking after the financial affairs of Ansarullah Bangla team since the arrest of Jasimuddin Rahmani over the murder of another blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.

After the killings of Avijit and Ananta, suspects Julhash and Jafran as instructed by Touhid uploaded online posts claiming responsibly for the murders.

Sadeque met Rahmani in 2007 and gradually earned Ansarullah chief's trust. He frequently visited the militant leader at Kashimpur jail and received instructions regarding organisational activities, said the Rab official.

As the three arrestees were paraded before media at the Rab headquarters during the press briefing, Sadeque admitted to journalists that he was acquainted with Rahmani and helped him publish books.

Denying his involvement in the killings, he said Abul Bashar often sent directives to ABT members about organisational affairs.

According to Rab, Bashar took the helm of the organisation after the arrest of Rahmani.

Replying to a query, Mufti said they were yet to be sure whether the arrestees were involved in the killing of bloggers Oyasiqur Rahman and Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy.

The Rab official added that the arrestees had been running small businesses in Dhaka as a cover for their militant activities. One of them, Ramjan, used to sell honeybee and black cumin (kalijira).

Expressing satisfaction over the arrests, Prof Ajay Roy, father of slain blogger Avijit, told The Daily Star that he wants a speedy trial in the case and immediate arrest of other killers.

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