The mysterious death of a 33-year-old man, allegedly in police custody in Sylhet city, sparked a protest yesterday.
Hundreds of locals blocked the Sylhet-Sunamganj highway for half an hour at Akhalia in the afternoon and demanded justice for the death.
Police later went to the spot and assured the protestors of proper investigation into the death.
News of the death of Rayhan Ahmed, 33, broke earlier in the day, with different local newspapers quoting the police officials as saying that Rayhan was beaten to death by a mob after he was caught mugging someone in Kasthogarh area of the city.
His family members, however, rubbished that version, saying that Rayhan, a resident of the city’s Neharipara area, used to work as a medical compounder at a doctor’s private chamber.
They claimed that he had died in police custody and further alleged that law enforcers had demanded Tk 10,000 for his release.
Contacted, Jyotirmoy Sarkar, additional deputy commissioner (media) of Sylhet Metropolitan Police, said, “As the matter is complicated, we are investigating it. The deputy commissioner (north) is probing the initial inquiry to know what happened to the man.”
Rayhan had left his home around 10:00pm on Saturday and after a while his mobile was found switched off, his cousin Tanvir Ahmed told The Daily Star.
“Around 4:23am, Rayhan called his mother from an unknown number and told her that police had picked him up and were holding him at Bandarbazar Police Outpost. He asked to send someone with Tk 4,000 so that police will free him,” his cousin said.
“Hearing that, Rayhan’s stepfather went to the police outpost with the money. There a policeman in civil uniform told him that Rayhan was injured in an accident and was sleeping at the time, and asked him to come again around 10:00am with Tk 10,000,” Tanvir said.
“Uncle then went to the police outpost around 10:00am when policemen at the outpost told him to go to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital, as Rayhan was admitted there since his condition had deteriorated,” he also said.
“Reaching the hospital, he came to know that Rayhan died and the police members on duty there told him that Rayhan was beaten by a mob.”
Rayhan’s stepfather Habib Ullah echoed the same and said, “We believe that Rayhan was tortured to death at the police outpost.”
This correspondent called the number from which Rayhan had called his mother, but no one received the call.
According to the medical registrar of the hospital, Rayhan was brought to the hospital by police at 7:00am yesterday.
Advocate Sumit Syam, a resident of Kasthogarh area, said, “We haven’t heard of any such mob beating incident in the morning, but later we heard that policemen had gathered in the area and were asking people about the mob beating.”
Nazrul Islam Munim, councillor of ward-14 of Sylhet City Corporation, said, “We are not sure what happened. But there are CCTV cameras that cover the whole of Kashthogarh area and we are now checking those.”
No case was filed till filing of this report around 8:00pm.
Family members said they would lodge a case after his burial.