Sunday, June 16, 2024

Journalist couple stabbed to death

Runi’s two brothers briefly detained: Two security guards in custody
Popular journalist couple, Golam Mustafa Sarwar alias Sagar Sarwar, a news editor of private television channel Maasranga, and his wife Meherun Nahar alias Meherun Runi, a senior reporter of ATN Bangla, were stabbed to death at their West Rajabazar residence in the capital early Saturday. The killing, first of its kind in country’s history, has triggered a shock wave across the country. The couple’s only five-year-old son, Mahir Sarwar Megh, was asleep in his room when the killing took place. The family lived in a rented flat on the fourth floor of the Shahjalal Rashid Lodge in West Rajabazar.
The boy found his parents dead in the morning and alerted his maternal grandmother, Nurun Nahar Mirza, who lives in a nearby flat at Indira Road.
President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia expressed their profound shock at the death of the couple.
The reason behind the killing could not be ascertained, but the police detained Runi’s two brothers and two security guards of the apartment for questioning.
Runi’s brothers were released about an hour after the interrogation at the Minto Road office of the detective branch of police.
The commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Benazir Ahmed, told journalists that intelligence agencies had already began investigations and that they would find the motive for the murder “within the shortest possible time”.
Home minister Sahara Khatun, who visited the victims’ flat, said she had instructed the law enforcers to find out the culprits within 48 hours.
Prior to her visit, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had visited the scene and commented that the country was gradually turning into a slaughter ground.
Prime Minister’s special assistant Mahbubul Haque Shakil, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University AAMS Arefin Siddique and chief executive officer of Maasranga Television Syed Fahim Munaim also visited the flat.
Information minister Abul Kalam Azad in a message said on Saturday that exemplary punishment would be given to the killers. He conveyed sympathy to members of the bereaved families and prayed for peace of the departed souls.
PM’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad, who visited the scene around 11:00 am, told newsmen that those, who were trying to destabilise society, were behind the killing. “On hearing about the incident, I assumed it was a robbery but now it seems to be a pre-planned murder,” said.
Terming the killing an “unexpected incident”, DMP commissioner Benazir Ahmed said the reason behind the murder would be unearthed within the shortest possible time.
The main door of the dead couples’ rented flat on the top floor of the five-storied Shahjalal Rashid Lodge was found locked from inside, but a grill in the kitchen window was found cut.
The couple was lying in a pool of blood in their bedroom. Sagar Sarwar’s legs were found tied together and as many as 25 stab injuries, made with a sharp weapon, were found on his body while Runi had two cut marks on the belly. Sagar was in his trousers with a belt, the clothes he had worn to office, while Runi was casualty dressed.
The bodies were sent to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue where the autopsy was conducted in the afternoon.
After the autopsy, the bodies were taken to the Dhaka Reporters Unity where the first namaj-e janaza was held. The second and third namaj-e janaza were held at the offices of Maasranga TV and ATN Bangla TV before the burial at the Azimpur graveyard in the evening.
On information, senior officials of police, Rapid Action Battalion and Criminal Investigation Department rushed to the spot. Members of various print and electronic media and other people thronged the apartment.
A five-member CID crime scene unit also reached the spot but they had to struggle to collect evidence from the crowded site.
A boiled egg was also found unfinished on the dining table in the couple’s flat.
The DB police picked up Runi’s brothers, Nawser Alam and Nawdish Alam, and two security guards of the building — Polash Rudra Pal and Humayun Kabir — who were on duty during the incident, for interrogation.
Polash was on duty from 10:00 pm Friday to 6:00 am Saturday while Humayun began his duty at 6:00 am Saturday.
They were taken to DB police headquarters in Minto Road.
Security guard Polash said Runi was at home since Friday evening while Sarwar arrived home in an office car around 2:00 am Saturday.
Nurunnabi, president of the flat association, told reporters that he had heard screams of somebody when he woke up for Fazr prayers. He immediately called Polash and asked him to see where the sound was coming from. But Polash could not trace the sound to any of the flats, he said.
Quoting Megh, Hamida Sultana, a resident of the neighbouring flat, said some guests had dined at the flat on Friday.
Polash said he had not seen anyone going out or coming in after Sarwar returned home early Saturday. The register book of the flat revealed that a man, who wrote his name as Toufiq, had entered Runi’s flat at 4:52 pm Friday but there was no record of his departure.
The security guards said guests had to enter their names in the register before they were allowed to enter the building. Only the residents of the apartment are allowed to go out, early in the morning, for fazr prayers and return through the only gate. The gate is open to all and sundry only after 6:00 am. Tejgaon Zone deputy commissioner Imam Ali said: “The motive behind the incident is not clear. The grill of the kitchen was found cut but it is very much difficult for a person to enter the flat through that opening.”
“The couple’s only son, Mahir Sarwar Megh, was not injured in the incident,” he added.
Zakir Hossain Mollah, officer-in-charge of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station, said the couple had been killed in the early hours of Saturday. Police have detained a security guard for questioning.
“The matter is still unclear. We are investigating,” Zakir said.
According to the OC, the couple’s son woke up around 7:00 am Saturday and found the bodies of his parents lying on the floor of their bedroom. He then called up his grandmother (Runi’s mother) and informed her of the incident.
The police official said the couple’s room was visibly ransacked and drawers were open. However, valuables like laptop and camera were not missing.
The grill of the kitchen window was found cut leaving a 1.8 feet wide opening, the OC added.
Ziaul Ahsan, chief of RAB’s intelligence wing said, “In the primary investigation, it appears to be a pre-planned act. It also occurred to us that the killers did not know them previously.” “This is an unexpected incident,” DMP commissioner Ahmed told reporters on the spot.
He assured them that the perpetrators would be found out through quick investigation and punished.
“Please keep your trust in us. We’ll be able to dig out the truth. We want your all-out cooperation,” Ahmed told the reporters.

-With The Independent input

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