The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a reliable source regarding the death of a young man and of severe injuries caused to several others when they were brutally tortured by the army's Joint Forces. Victim Md. Jamal Uddin died from a brutal beating a few hours after arrest on 22 June 2007 in Bottala, Mirpur-14. Jamal0 and his companions were arrested and falsely charged for a theft that supposedly took place at the house of an army sergeant.CASE DETAILS: (According to the testimonies of victims and their relatives)
At around 2:30am to 3:00am on June 22, the victims: Md. Jamal Uddin, Rabiul Islam, Mona, Wahidul Islam Kajol and Shahalam, were arrested in Bottala in Mirpur-14 by members of the Joint Force. Jamal was working at his uncle's teashop while the four others are helpers and drivers of motorized vehicles, who, at the time were sleeping in the same area, when they were arrested. They were arrested over false charges of theft and for breaking in at the house of Md. Sirajul Islam, an army sergeant. The arrest took place shortly after two other persons, Al Amin and Saddam Hossain, had been arrested for theft and pointed them as their accomplices.
The five victims were taken to the Mirpur Cantonment following their arrest where the arresting officers allegedly started brutally torturing them from the moment they arrived until around 1:00pm that same day. They were separately tied to a tree and repeatedly beaten. Some of them were taken to a dark room. Since June 22 was Friday, the perpetrators halted in torturing them for three hours to recite their prayers before they resumed once again.
Two victims, Jamal and Kajol, were among those who had suffered serious injuries due to brutal beatings in their group. They were the youngest among them. When the perpetrators noticed the severity of injuries the two had suffered, they turned them all over to the Kafrul Police station. Army sergeant Md. Sirajul Islam subsequently lodged a First Information Report (FIR) registered at 380511 in the same police station. It was Sirajul's house whom the victims were supposed to have broken into. The police officers at the Kafrul police station then took Jamal and Kajol to the Dhaka Medical Collage Hospital for treatment while the others were remanded to jail.
After Jamal's uncle (name withheld) heard of his arrest, he immediately went to Mirpur Cantonment where he and the other victims were taken and questioned by the arresting officers. He told an army officer on duty at the gate at the time that his nephew had been arrested and requested him whether he could take him back home. The army officer however treated him rudely and told him to leave. He could not do anything but to leave the place without taking Jamal with him. He had hoped though that the army officers would treat his nephew well and allow him to leave after questioning.
It was learned later that Jamal died due to brutal beatings inflicted on him while he was being questioned in the custody of the army officers. His corpse had torture marks over different part of his body particularly bruises on his chest. The findings of Dr. MA Kashem, the doctor who treated him at the hospital likewise revealed that he died of torture. The other victim, Kajol, also suffered serious injuries. He was first reported in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital but was able to recover from his injuries later.
The police officer investigating the case, Md. Alamgir Hossain, said the complaint against the victim was filed by Sergeant Sirajul Islam. He, however, said he was out of the police station when the victims were handed over to their police station. He was the one who took Jamal and Kajol to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He however refused to provide further details of the case nor to disclose circumstances on Jamal's death because their investigation was still in progress when a fact finding team interviewed him.
According to testimonies of victim Sah Alam, while Jamal was watching the other victims being brutally beaten and tortured he had told him: "I will die if they hit me like this". At the time Sah and Jamal were brutally beaten by the officers as well. Jamal touched the feet of the perpetrators and even called them father, pleading to them to stop beating him. Sah said the gravity of torture he had experienced was so severe that he never thought he would ever survive.
Another victim, Rabiul Islam, also said he fell sick due to brutal torture on him. He said Jamal and Kajol were the ones who suffered severely. He described Jamal as a good person and that their community grieved for his needless death. Every person who knew him cried when they heard the news of his death. He further added that due to torture, "I (he) could no longer work properly after being tortured in such away. My (his) hands and legs are still paining". He also added that: "On the other hand there is a fear in my mind about the possibility of occurring the incident of torture with me by the members of the Joint Forces again".
Also one victim, Md. Mona, recounted that the perpetrators brutally beat Jamal and forced him to confess to the theft and break in at Sirajul's house. Mona said of the torture they had suffered: "none of us thought we would be able to live again. Though I am alive by the kindness of Allah, but the memory of such torture keeps coming back again and again".
Jamal was described as a good boy having good moral character in their community. He had been working at the teashop owned by his uncle for three years. He earns money from there for a living. The shop usually opens 24 hours. His uncle takes charge of the teashop during daytime while he takes charge at nighttime. His uncle heard the news of his arrest from a security guard working close to his teashop. The security guard went to his house informing him about Jamal's arrest. Jamal's father later came to Dhaka to take his son's corpse back to their village for burial. Those who knew Jamal as a good person were shocked by the news of his death.
Another person who knew Jamal also said: "No one in this area could not tell that he has done any wrong. His world was limited to his shop and his home. Besides, a boy like him could not take part in any such kind of offense (theft). How could the Joint Forces kill him? I can't understand why all these happened". Another person likewise said of him: "He was a good boy. He was jolly all the time. I have never seen him misbehaving with others. I was with him for a long time so that I can't understand why this happens to him". One of his customers also said: "I know Jamal for long period. I never saw him misbehaving with others. All the people in Bottala feel sorrow of his death".