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A Father’s Quest for Disappeared Son

30-month search continues to find man missing from RAB custody

disappearance timeline

Two and a half years after his son’s disappearance, Ruhul Amin still clings to the hope that his son is alive. Imam Hossain, 24, disappeared on March 16, 2012, from Dhaka while in Rapid Action Battalion 2 (RAB 2) custody.

The 45 year old father who lives in South Rajnagar, Panchagarah district, 450 kilometres away from the capital, has spent two years knocking on the doors of law enforcement agencies, the civil administration, human rights organizations and the judiciary in Dhaka, in the hope of getting news of his son.

“I paid a RAB 2 official Tk40,000 to get my son back but nothing has happened. Everybody is hiding the truth. Who will give me justice?” Ruhul said to the Dhaka Tribune.

Ruhul Amin 1

He told the Dhaka Tribune the tale of his bitter journey to recover his son alive from RAB 2 some days ago.

Ruhul attended a programme on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on Saturday at the National Press Club. The event, organised by the Committee for the Protection of Fundamental Rights, was attended by hundreds of family members of the disappeared.

Ruhul comes to Dhaka several times a month from Panchagarh to query authorities about his son. He has not recovered his son, dead or alive, nor has he been able to file a kidnapping case.

Ruhul’s son, Imam, was first abducted by miscreants on the night of March 5 from the capital’s Farmgate area while returning home from his work in Tejgaon.

Around the time Imam was being abducted, Ruhul received a phone call from his son’s cell phone which was later switched off, in which the caller said Imam had been abducted by some miscreants. Ruhul immediately started calling law enforcement agencies.

He informed Rapid Action Battalion 2 of the phone call about his son’s abduction as well as the officers-in-charge of both Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and Tejgaon police stations, the police control room and duty officers and intelligence division of police in Dhaka.

On March 6, RAB 2 said they had rescued his son from the crossing between Sher-e-Bangla Agriculture University and the traffic signal around 10:30pm and arrested two of his abductors, Jahid and Babul. RAB 2 said the other gang members evaded capture.

Ruhul said: “The then duty officer of RAB 2, sub-inspector Raju, told me my son had been rescued. He told me to come up with Tk1 lakh to get him back.”

On the morning of the 6th, an alleged kidnapper who called himself Sohag, telephoned Ruhul and said Imam had been kidnapped in revenge for some earlier misconduct.

Ruhul arrived in Dhaka on March 12 together with Tk40,000 in bribe money in order to free his son from RAB.

“Don’t worry. You will get back your son back. Some paperwork is being done, you will get your son when it is done,” Ruhul quoted RAB duty officer, SI Solaiman, as saying.

The RAB officer told Ruhul to file a case at a police station and bring the case document to RAB offices to get his son released. On March 12, Ruhul tried but could not get the Tejgaon police station to file a kidnapping case. The police station finally agreed to register a general diary of the incident later that day.

On March 13, 2012, Ruhul reached the RAB 2 office around 4pm with Tk40,000 which he had saved up for his younger son’s medical operation.

“Then Raju took my signature on a document that said I got my son back after the abduction. As soon as he got the Tk40,000, he said ‘Bring Tk1 lakh in cash otherwise your son will be killed,’” Ruhul said.

“Raju told me they would not accept half the amount. ‘Bring the full amount and that is final,’ he said to me. He threatened me saying if I told anyone about this, I would lose my son and they would also kill me,” he said. Ruhul Amin

Ruhul said he nearly went mad and did not know what he would do for his son. He then somehow managed to see his son in person. Some RAB men allowed Ruhul to see Imam, at night only, and on condition that he not talk to his son but look at him from a distance.

Ruhul agreed because he had no other choice. He saw his blindfolded son in a RAB vehicle at night in different places of the Farmgate area from March 13 to March 16.

“On March 16, I saw him for the last time. Since then I have not seen him nor have any news of his whereabouts,” Ruhul said.

On March 19, Ruhul submitted a letter from Panchagarh 2 member of parliament, Nurul Islam Sujan, to the RAB 2 office asking RAB 2 to take necessary legal action.

The next day, March 20, Ruhul said personnel at the RAB office said his son had been killed.

“Raju was still bluffing me, saying that high officials would return my son,” Ruhul said.

On 30 April, Ruhul submitted a written complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“But the NHRC is the type of organization that will do nothing if it is not knocked,” he said about his bitter experience with the commission.

“They repeatedly told me they sent letters to the home ministry but the ministry had lost their letters,” said.

He sought legal aid from the government but to no avail.

On November 13, 2012, Supreme Court Advocate Adilur Rahman, on behalf of Ruhul, submitted a writ petition to the High Court (HC). The HC ruled upon it and asked the government and law enforcement agencies to reply within a week.

Ruhul said police harassment against him began in 2013, as the investigation into the disappearance of his son began.

He said: “I was continuously harassed and threatened by the then Tejgaon police officials including the officer-in-charge.”

He sent letters several times to the prime minister’s office and the president’s office but did not receive a reply.

He submitted letters to the home ministry and was later summoned by the ministry on February 28, 2014.

The ministry instructed RAB 2 to investigate the matter.

Ruhul was summoned by the ministry for the second time on June 18.

Two days before that, on June 16, he was interviewed by the Anti Corruption Commission about the bribe he had paid to the RAB official.

“I want my son back. I will not stop. I will see this through to the end,” Ruhul said to the Dhaka Tribune, crying.

Ruhul does not know where this journey will end. Imam is one of 215 persons who remain missing after being victims of enforced disappearance.

Read Many Victims, One Story, One Demand

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