Around six-seven men in plainclothes, introducing themselves as law enforcement officials, went to Selim Reza Pintu's house in Mirpur's Pallabi area at 1:15am on 12 December, 2013 and picked him up in an ash-coloured microbus.
They said they will send back Selim, a businessman, after interrogating him, but they did not disclose their identity or the name of their agency. Selim did not return to his family. They do not know his whereabouts or if he is dead or alive. If he had died already, where his body had been buried, they would like to know, but they earnestly believe that he will return someday.
Like Selim Reza's family, at least 30 families of victims of enforced disappearance formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club on the occasion of the week commemorating the disappeared persons.
Human rights organisation "Mayer Daak (Mother's Call)" on Friday morning organised the human chain where the family members of the victims demanded that the authorities launch a search for the missing persons immediately.
Meanwhile, four local and foreign human rights organisations have urged the government to conduct an impartial investigation into every case of "disappearance" in Bangladesh and find the "missing" people and return them to their families.
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Mayer Daak and Odhikar issued the joint statement on the occasion of the week commemorating the disappeared persons.
The joint statement called on the Bangladesh government to ensure that victims of disappearances receive justice. It said the Bangladeshi authorities' continued denial of disappearances (especially targeting political opposition parties and dissidents) and their reluctance to take action against this heinous crime was reprehensible.
The statement also said Bangladesh has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The incidents of disappearances are a clear violation of these agreements and charters. Therefore, there is an opportunity to consider the cases of enforced disappearance as a violation of international law and a crime against humanity.
The statement said incidents of disappearances have not stopped in Bangladesh even among the Covid-19 pandemic.
Citing Odhikar's data, the statement said 11 people have disappeared in the country from January to April 2021.
Selim Reza Pintu's younger brother Hasnain Reza broke down in tears while talking about his brother's enforced disappearance.
"All we have now is a general diary filed on 13 December, 2013 just a day after of his disappearance. We do not know how he is, how he looks now," he said.
The general diary number 529 of Pallabi Police Station of Dhaka Metropolitan Police reads that a sub-inspector had been assigned about the investigation of Selim Reza's enforced disappearance. The then investigating officer Asaduzzaman told The Business Standard that they have tried to find out Selim Reza's whereabouts that year.
"I have contacted all possible sources and even talked with the family members several times, but found out nothing. In the meantime I had been transferred from the police station, later another SI had been asked to investigate the case," he added.
Hazera Khatun – an elderly mother who initiated the platform Mayer Daak – could not participate in the programme this year as she was bed-ridden. She has been searching for eight years since her son Sajedul Islam Suman's disappearance.
Suman's sister Marufa Islam told TBS his brother, president of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) unit in ward-25, was picked up by some plainclothes men on 4 December, 2013 along with five other persons including his cousin Tanvir from the Bashundhara residential area.
"He never came back to us. We have searched for him everywhere – the offices of the Rab, police and political party, but luck did not favour us. My mother Hazera Khatun started to speak up about her son's disappearance. This only made her tired and bed-ridden, but she couldn't find her son. She still wants to hug her son for once before she dies," said Marufa.
Sanjida Islam Akhi, coordinator of the organisation said, "Hazera Khatun united all the families of the victims of enforced disappearance now it's a platform of around 500 families across the country."
Those who took part in the human chain were holding pictures of the missing persons and a banner saying "Stop disappearances, return the missing persons."
Not only the opponent party, men from organisations associated with the ruling party were also among the victims of enforced disappearance.
Moazzem Hossain Tapu, the then president of Rampura Thana unit Chhatra League went missing from the capital's Norda area on 2 January, 2016.
He is still missing, finding him is now quite impossible for his mother.
Tapu's uncle Kamal Hossain said his father died from the shock of losing his son, while his mother has fallen ill.
Nasrin Jahan, wife of a missing wood businessman Ismail Hossain, her daughter Anisha Jahan, and son Enam also participated in the human chain demanding to know the whereabouts of Ismail who had been missing since 19 June, 2019.
Anisha, a ninth grader, said, "We have been waiting for his return since the day. It seems unbearable and indefinite but we do not know when our waiting will end."
Hasina Begum, mother of Ariful Islam who went missing on 6 December, 2013, said men claiming to be Detective Branch officers picked up her son from the Airport area.
"I had cried a lot, but now I do not cry. I have no complaint to the government. All my complaints are submitted to almighty Allah," she said.
Md Chanchal – a businessman who had been living in Old Dhaka went missing around three years ago. His son Ikram Hossain has only faded memories of playing with his father and of the day they went to Shahbagh Shishu Park.
"I am studying at class five. When he was with us he took me to school, but after he went missing I had to go to school alone. No one came to receive me at the school's main gate after the classes ended," he added.
Mehedi Hasan, who participated in the human chain, was one of the rare persons who came back after remaining missing for six months
"They tortured me, hurt my hands, eyes and several other parts of my body. I was blindfolded all the six months, I could not even know where I was. Luckily I could come back, but I think about others who are still missing for years," said Mehedi.
Nagorik Oikkya Convenor Mahmudur Rahman Manna, eminent photographer Shahidul Alam, former Ducsu Vice President Nurul Haque Nur and others spoke at the human chain.