Families of jailed students claim police framed their children to cover up own misdeeds over the death of ex-army official
Private university students Shahedul Islam Sifat and Shipra Rani Debnath had their student ID numbers which now do not matter anymore. They are now two jailbirds with prisoner numbers – 4864 and 4867 – and waiting for the home ministry probe report, which is likely to decide their fate.
Families of the students said the two are paying the price of police misdeeds that got Major (Retd) Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan shot-dead on Cox's Bazar Marine Drive last Friday night.
After the firing incident, police arrested Sifat – who was travelling with the retired major – from the spot while Shipra was picked up from a local resort. The duo was accused in two different lawsuits – attempted murder and narcotics cases.
On August 1, police produced them before the Cox's Bazar court and the court sent them to jail.
The students over phone told their families that they felt everything suddenly turned into a nightmare. They were also concerned over their future.
The students and Major (Retd) Sinha were working on a documentary film in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar. Shipra came to Cox's Bazar earlier in July and was supposed to return to Dhaka within a few days.
One of her friends named Polash Ahmed talked to Shipra over the phone. Polash said, "She was crying. She could not say much."
Advocate Rafiq Uddin, who is fighting the legal battle for the students, said he had placed four different bail pleas for them. The court set next Sunday for hearing.
Asked if any human rights organisation moved for Sifat and Shipra's bail, he responded in the negative.
On Wednesday, Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed at a press conference in Cox's Bazar said the decision about the students would be taken once the probe team submits its report.
"After getting the probe report, we will decide about them," he said.
Shipra completed her Diploma in Architect from Rajshahi women Polytechnic Institute and then got herself admitted in BUET under IEB certified Bsc in Civil Engineering degree. She left engineering after two years and then got admitted to Stamford University's Film and Media Studies Department to fulfil her passion for film.
Hailing from Kushtia, Shipra lives in the capital's Rampura TV Road area.
"Already six days have passed since the incident and now they are telling us to wait until the probe report submission. Is it justice?" said Shipra's mother Purnima Debnath.
"Waiting for the report for another day is like a thousand years," she said while talking to The Business Standard.
"Police made the mistakes and then arrested my daughter to cover up the crime. We are really concerned for our safety now," she broke into tears.
In the meantime, an official of the Cox's Bazar jail told The Business Standard that Sifat looked traumatised after arriving in the prison.
The official said, "Sifat told the probe body Tuesday that he was tied up and tortured by police just after the firing. During interrogation of the probe body, he looked frightened and repeatedly asked when he would be able to walk out of the jail."
Sifat's uncle Masum Billah told The Business Standard, "Doing nothing seems a crime now. Who knows whether he would get bail. And even if he gets bail, we will have to be worried about him until the cases are settled down."
Classmates demonstrate for Sifat-Shipra's release
Meanwhile, Stamford University students formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Thursday, demanding immediate release of their fellows.
The students also demanded immediate withdrawal of the charges brought against Shipra and Sifat. They voiced for ensuring justice over the death of Major (retd) Sinha.
The classmates said both Sifat and Shipra were very passionate about their work and well-mannered.