Farhad Mazhar claims he was forced to say he left home ‘willingly’

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Desk report, December 10: Writer Farhad Mazhar on Saturday claimed again that plainclothes policemen had picked him up several months back with an aim to deport him from the country. “… I don’t have any idea who was behind my kidnapping. But I can recall that my abductors were in plain clothes (not in uniform). I don’t know who they were or in which group or agency they belonged to,” he said at a press conference at his residence at Shyamoli in the capital. Farhad Mazhar, also a social activist, came up with the remarks at the press conference organised over five months after his abduction that drew widespread controversy across the country.

The writer was found in Jessore on July 3, more than 18 hours after his ‘going missing’ which the law enforcing agencies later claimed was ‘a staged drama’ to tarnish the image of the government. Detailing the incident, Farhad claimed that he was forced into a minibus by three men while he was walking near his residence in the early morning of that day.

“They used some abusive languages, took away my mobile and blindfolded me. They used their knees to keep my head down on the minibus,” he said. The writer also alleged that law enforcers forced him to give statement as per their dictation and threatened to file cases against him, otherwise.

“I was compelled to say in front of the media that I was not abducted, rather I went to Khulna on a pleasure trip,” the writer said in his yesterday briefing.

Farhad Mazhar extended thanks to those police personnel who rescued him from the hands of abductors. At the same time the poet raised question against the police investigation into the case saying that the good image of police has faded away with the current activities of the investigation team of the case.

He also alleged that the present government cannot avoid its responsibility for his ‘abduction’ and called upon the all authorities concerned to play an unbiased role to ensure justice.

Mazhar said he was unsure who had ‘abducted’ him from a street near his home at about 5am on that day. “That morning I had problems with my eyes and so I left my home to buy medicine. Suddenly three men appeared on the sidewalk and they pushed me inside a white minivan, he recalled.

He said he managed to fish his mobile from his pocket and call his wife. “It was a short call. I whispered: ‘They are taking me away, they will kill me.’ I spoke to her for just a few seconds before they noticed it,” he said.

“Then the vehicle kept travelling for hours. They abused me, throwing foul language at me sometimes. They also slapped me,” he said. “Around 10 or 12 hours later, the men said they would release me. They took off the blindfold and dropped me at a secluded place when it was a little dark,” he added.

“They gave me a bus ticket and asked me to take the bus from Khulna city to go back to Dhaka. I walked some distance and reached a market in Khulna, where I had some food before boarding the bus at 9.15 pm,” he recalled.

Talking to the media he claimed that Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel rescued him from the abductors but the certain plainclothesmen had tried to snatch him from RAB and tried to take him across the Khulna-Jessore border to the other side.

Farhad Mazhar went on to say, RAB felt that the abductors may still be in the area and so they wanted to take him to Khulna for treatment and rest. But some unknown persons blocked the road with trucks in order to prevent the RAB vehicle from proceeding. Later he was taken by the RAB vehicle to a place which they said was Abhaynagar Police Station.

Accusing the police of misbehaving with him, Farhad Mazhar said, “I was a victim, but I was forced out of the RAB vehicle. They misbehaved with me badly. In the name of interrogation, they made me say I had been on a leisure trip. The police made me get into a vehicle and sang at the top of their voices, travelling towards Dhaka.”

He went on to say, “As I came back alive, they are trying to keep me silent by socially humiliating me. All my life I worked for human rights. If we are to stop this culture of enforced disappearances, then we have to stand up despite all humiliation and work to ensure that all the missing persons are returned to their families.”

However, after being allegedly abducted from near his house Farhad Mazhar did not speak to the media. The police in its reports claimed the Farhad Mazhar hadn’t been abducted rather he had gone to Khulna on his own accord. Farhad Mazhar’s wife filed a case with the Adabar police station in the capital city in this regard. Farhad Mazhar was rescued around 11:00pm that night from Jessore’s Abhaynagar on a Dhaka-bound Hanif Paribahan bus which had left from Khulna.

He was first handed over to Khulna police and then at around 8:45am the next morning he was taken to the Adabor police station in Dhaka. He was then taken to the police’s Detective Branch (DB) office on Minto Road, and then sent to court. He gave his deposition in court as a victim. The court then released him.