Is there any mechanism to stop the barbarity of the RAB in this country?


AHRC Investigative Report: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received credible information that the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has shot a juvenile college student causing a permanent disability in Jhalkathi district. On 23 March 2011, a team of the RAB-8 stopped 16-year-old Limon Hossen, who was an examinee of the Higher Secondary Certificate near to his house and him in his thigh on the suspicion that he was a terrorist. As a result of this deliberate shooting the left leg of Limon has been amputated by the doctors of the National Institute of Traumatology, Orthopedic and Rehabilitation (NITOR) as all the tissues were found completely damaged. The RAB, which is reputed to be the “official death squad of the Bangladesh Government”, has now blocked off the whole ward of the hospital denying all the attendants of the patients at the hospital. The plain-clothed members of the RAB are intimidating and threatening the relatives, neighbours, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders who are supporting the victim financially to receive treatment and express sympathy to the family. People of the victim’s neighbourhood are now hiding to save their life in fear of extrajudicial killing at the hands of the RAB. Please intervene immediately into this matter urging the authorities of Bangladesh to stop harassment by the RAB and prosecute the perpetrators.
CASE NARRATIVES: (Based on interviews with the victim, witnesses, and
examination of relevant documents)

Md. Limon Hossen, a 16-year-old student of the Kathalia P. G. S. Multilateral High School and College and an examinee of the (currently ongoing) Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination under the Bangladesh Technical Education Board of Dhaka. Limon’s family lives in Saturia village under the jurisdiction of the Rajapur police station in Jhalkathi district. His father Mr. Tofazzel Hossen is a day-labourer by profession while his mother Mrs. Henoara Begum is a housewife.

On 23 March 2011, at around 3:30pm, Limon was asked by his mother to bring the family’s cattle from the bank of the Sondha river where three cows were left for grazing. At around 4pm, while returning home Limon was stopped by a group of nine persons riding three motorbikes (three persons on each bike). Among them one man was plain clothed while the rest eight were wearing the black uniform of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The plain clothed man, who was later identified as Md. Lutfor Rahman, Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of the Crime Prevention Company No. 01 of the RAB-8 based in Barisal city, asked Limon’s name and started beating accusing him (Limon) to be a ‘terrorist’. Limon, who used to manage his tuition fees by working as part-time labourer at local brick factory due to his family’s unaffordability, claimed that he was student informing the name of his college. He also requested the RAB men to contact the principal of the Kathalia P. G. S. Multilateral School and College to verify his studentship. DAD Lutfor and his colleagues denied to accept Limon’s statement and attempted to kill him by pointing gun at him. Limon cried in fear and requested the RAB personnel for not to kill him. Suddenly, DAD Lutfor shot him pointing gun in his left thigh. Limon fell on the ground and lost his sense. The news of Limon’s shooting at Limon in broad day light reached his relatives and neighbours immediately. Limon’s mother Mrs. Henoara Begum along with his uncle Moazzem Hossen rushed to the scene and saw that Limon was bleeding from his left leg. When the mother and uncle cried out for help for saving the life of Limon the members of the RAB prevented them from approaching Limon. The RAB members started beating Moazzem. DAD Lutfor grounded Moazzem and stood on Moazzem’s head and neck with Lutfor’s boot while the other colleagues held his hands and legs in order to stop Moazzem’s movement.

The RAB personnel took off the lungi (a clothed worn by males in Bangladesh and few neighbouring countries) from Limon’s body making his body naked. They put the lungi on the blood, which came out from Limon’s body, and stamped with their boots to wipe the blood from the ground with the lungi and threw the blood-soaked cloth into the river.

The RAB personnel took off Limon’s shirt to tie up the bullet wound. After about two hours four persons carried Limon’s body to a boat at a nearby boat pier and asked the boatman Mr. Munsef to ply the boat, which left for unknown place.

The family became worried about Limon’s fate and the deteriorating health condition of Moazzem, who was critically injured due to torture by the RAB. They took Moazzem to the Kawkhali hospital for treatment. They learned from the eyewitnesses that a black pickup van of the RAB took away Limon’s body from a pier near to Jamaddar Bari. Since then, Limon whereabouts remained unknown to the family. Later, in the evening, Limon found himself at the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barisal city when he returned to his sense.

In the late night, DAD Lutfor filed two criminal cases (No. 10 and 11) with the Rajapur police station accusing Limon and seven others claiming an incident of encounter between a so called group of terrorists and the RAB-8, which is habituated to publicize fake stories of encounter since its inception.

The first case (First Information Report- FIR No. 10 of the Rajapur police station, dated 23 March 2011) was registered under Sections 19 A and 19 F of the Arms Act-1878. In this case DAD Lutfor claimed that a group of terrorists of the Shahid Jomaddar’s gang opened gun fire targeting the RAB team when the latter reached Shahid Jomaddar’s house. RAB responded the gunshots by firing from their own pistols and Stenguns. The terrorists escaped except one person named Limon, who had a bullet wounds in his left thigh, with a USA-made pistol and magazines in his possession.

The second case (First Information Report- FIR No. 11 of the Rajapur police station, dated 23 March 2011) was registered under Sections 322, 353, 307 and 34 of the Penal Code-1860 for obstructing the law-enforcement agencies to discharge their duties and attempting to murder.

In both complaints the RAB’s DAD Lutfor claimed Limon’s age as 25 years despite the fact that according to the official records Limon’s age is 16 years and 3 months only. They have also insisted the hospital staffs to record the same age of Limon when he was brought to the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barisal.

On 24 March, at 10am Limon’s family came to know that Limon had been admitted to the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barisal. When the relatives went to the hospital they saw four armed men of the RAB cordoned Limon at Bed No. 11 of the Surgical Ward No. 27. The RAB men refused Limon’s father Mr. Tofazzel to see his son. Limon’s mother Mrs. Henoara, as a form of extreme submissiveness and request, the held legs of the on-duty RAB personnel requesting them to allow her to see her son. Then, they allowed Henoara to go her son, but after a short while they kicked out her from the hospital. The family learned that Limon was admitted to the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital at 8pm on 23 March, after four hours of the shooting Limon by the RAB.

After the midnight of 24 March, the doctors of the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital confirmed that they were unable to cure Limon, who had a perforation in his left thigh due to bullet wounds. On 25 March, the doctors referred Limon to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (NICVD) for better treatment. The doctors of the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital implied that Limon’s condition was critical and life-threatening for which huge amount of money will be required to save his life. The family became worried about money. The people of Limon’s neighbourhood donated money for his treatment although it was not enough that compelled the helpless family to borrow money mortgaging a piece of land.

On 26 March evening, the Rajapur police cordoned by Constables Aftab and Abdur Rashid took Limon to the NICVD in the city of Dhaka by an ambulance forcing Limon’s family to pay BDT 5,500.00 for the fare of the ambulance. When Limon was taken to the NICVD early in the morning of 27 March the doctors further referred him to the National Institute of Traumatology, Orthopedic and Rehabilitation (NITOR) for required treatment.

On 27 March, the doctors of the NITOR operated on Limon’s left and finally amputated it from the thigh of which all the tissues were found completely damaged due to bullet wounds. Limon has been under treatment of the doctors of the NITOR, who imposed all the expenditure of Limon’s surgery upon the family.

The members of the RAB cordoned the hospital after Limon had been taken to the NITOR and continued surveillance.

On 6 April, a leading national daily newspaper published a detailed report about the incident with a picture of Limon’s amputated leg. Since the media report the RAB and police forced the authorities of the NITOR to lock the hospital ward where Limon was admitted. All the doors of the ward were locked from inside expelling the relatives of other patients and denying entry to visitors at that ward. The journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers were refused entry to the hospital by the uniformed and plain-clothed members of the RAB and the police. The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Bangladesh Prof. Mizanur Rahman has only been allowed to visit Limon, who described the story to him. The NHRC Chairman suggested the parents of Limon to file complaints to seek justice from the court of law.

Following the suggestion of the NHRC Chairman when Limon’s relatives tried to consult with lawyers regarding filing complaint with the local Court of Magistrate of Jhalkathi district the members of the RAB have started intimidating and threatening everyone of the whole area in Jhalkathi including the journalists, lawyers, relatives and neighbours for expressing their opinion regarding the barbarity of this paramilitary force, which has earned reputation of an “official death squad of the Bangladesh Government”.

Moreover, the officials of the RAB have been calling many people over cell phones asking them to go to the office of the RAB-8 and keep silent about the case of Limon. A large number of plain-clothed members of the RAB have been staying in Saturia village and collecting the names of and other particulars of the persons, who have already shared their views with the newspapers and donated money to Limon’s family for his treatment. The well-wishers and neighbours of Limon have now been forced to go in hiding in fear of extrajudicial killing by the RAB.

Additionally, the plain-clothed members of the RAB have cordoned the Ward of the NITOR denying entry of the attendants of the patients, who have been helpless for getting food, medicine and assistance for using washrooms while hospital does not provide adequate support and care of the patients.

Limon’s father Mr. Tofazzel Hossain told the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that his family has seen an unimaginable disaster due to the atrocities of the RAB. He pointed out that, firstly, his son, who had passion of maintaining study by part-time working in brick factory, has been a physically disabled for his whole life. Secondly, as a day labourer Tofazzel cannot afford the high expenditure of medical treatment of his son as the public hospital asked his family to buy all medicines and necessary tools for the surgery and the post-operation medical treatment. He has already spent BDT 150,000.00 for his son’s treatment, which has also been cordially supported by the people of all walks of his native village and by selling a piece of his land. He is highly confused about the fate of his son as the family’s affordability is on the verge of its last limit. Thirdly, Tofazzel’s hope for getting justice has been diminishing due to continuous threats and intimidations by the RAB to his relatives, neighbours and other professionals who have expressed their sympathy to his family. Tofazzel asked when the AHRC interviewed him, “Can anyone imagine how we have been suffering from this disastrous situation? Is there any mechanism to stop the barbarity of the RAB in this country?”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned there is another person named Limon Hossain Jamaddar, who lives in Dhaka and reportedly employed in a private company, in the area where Limon was shot by the RAB-8 on 23 March 2011. This Limon Hossain Jomaddar, aged around 25 years, is a son of Mr. Kamrul Jamaddar, having a relationship with Mr. Shahid Jamaddar whom the RAB team accused in the two criminal cases lodged after shooting Limon Hossen, who is 16-year-old college student.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which is termed as an “elite force” by the Government of Bangladesh, did not bother for verifying the identity of a targeted person regardless whether the person concerned is innocent or involved in any kind of offence due to its extreme lack of minimum efficiency of law-enforcement.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please urge the authorities of Bangladesh to launch a thorough investigation into the matter immediately asking them to prosecute the perpetrators for the crime beyond any impunity. The victim, his relatives and well-wishers 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. The two fabricated cases that have already registered against Limon Hossen by the RAB must be dropped. The RAB should be disbanded immediately for committing such heinous crimes.

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