Alleged murder of former bodyguard of Sheikh Hasina rocks Bangladesh

Country’s government orders panel to submit report

Updated - August 04, 2020 09:46 am IST

Published - August 04, 2020 09:26 am IST - NEW DELHI

Sheikh Hasina. File

Sheikh Hasina. File

The mysterious death of a former bodyguard of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has disturbed the country’s Eid holidays. Major (Retired) Sinha Mohammed Rashed Khan was shot in the chest allegedly by members of the police late on Friday near Cox’s Bazar. Ever since, multiple versions of the incident have been floated, raising doubts about the precise sequence of events that took Sinha’s life.

The police have claimed that the former commando had aimed his pistol at them and they shot back in self-defence. However, several Dhaka media reports have noted that there was a two-hour delay in taking him to hospital even after he was critically wounded, prompting questions about the role of the local police. Following the incident, at least 20 policemen, including the inspector in charge of the check post, have been withdrawn from active duty.

Sinha retired in 2018 from the Special Security Force, which is tasked with the protection of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. According to his family members, he was planning an YouTube channel documenting his international travels. The 36-year old is survived by his mother and two sisters.

The apparent murder of Sinha has been highlighted as the incident took place on the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway, which is known to be the chosen route for drugs like Yaba and weapons that arrive from Myanmar. The 80-km-long drive is popular as a tourist attraction, as well as a strategically important entry point into Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugee camps of Kutupalong located near Teknaf have also added to the additional law and order burden in the area.

The government’s initial response was to constitute an investigating team led by the Additional District Magistrate of Cox’s Bazar. But in view of the growing public anger, the investigation has been upgraded and will be led by Additional Departmental Commissioner Mohammed Mizanul Rahman. The Public Security wing of the Home Ministry of Bangladesh has ordered the committee to submit its report in a week.

Teknaf is frequently in the news because of gunfights between the police and smuggling gangs. However, the latest incident involving the much-photographed high-profile former commando and military man is considered unprecedented.

The incident has once again highlighted the importance of the Bangladesh military in the affairs of the country. A former senior military official of Bangladesh said on condition of anonymity that the issue had shocked both serving and the retired personnel who maintain strong fraternal ties. He indicated that the force was looking forward to getting satisfactory answers to the death of their former colleague, who was buried during the weekend in the military cemetery of Dhaka. When asked, the former official pointed out that the Bangladesh military was keenly watching the development and had decided not to comment on the case as it was being investigated.

The military of Bangladesh is part of the elite in the country, as it has been in power for much of the time since the country attained Independence in 1971. Analysts in Dhaka have argued that there is a serious risk of escalating friction between the military and the law and order arms of the present government if the brutal killing of Sinha is not addressed in a satisfactory manner.

The incident has also added to the fast-deteriorating law and order situation in the country which was shaken on 30 July when five five policemen were injured in an IED blast in a police station. Subsequent revelations showed that the men belonged to the Islamic State.

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