Dhaka, July 19: Members of an entire family of physician in Bangladesh went disappear amid growing fears about missing individuals turning up as terrorists.
The relatives of the disappeared family in Dhaka said that they fear the 5-member family has made their way to Islamic State-held territory in Syria.
According to relatives, pediatrician Khandaker Rokonuddin, 50, his wife Naima Akhter, 45, daughters Rezwana Rokon, 23, and Ramita Rokon, 15, and son-in-law Saad Qayes, 30, left Dhaka on October 10 last year.
The local police talked with the relatives of the missing family and apprehended they might be left Bangladesh for Syria.
“We have talked to relatives and assuming the disappeared family members went to Syria,” Rampura Police Station ASI Mostafizur Rahman told media.
The doctor from Dhaka Shishu Hospital used to live in city’s Chowdhury Para at Khilgaon. His wife Naima taught botany at a college outside the capital city.
The attackers who killed 20 hostages and two policemen after seizing an upscale cafe at Gulshan included youths reported missing by their families.
Police have since then been given ten more names of individuals whose families fear they have joined radical Islamist groups.
Then came seven more names, among them five are from one family. The two others are Tausif Hossain and ‘Sejad’ aka ‘Arko’ aka ‘Morocco’.
Rokonuddin lived with his family in a flat on the third floor of the five-storey building which belonged to late doctor Ali Ahmed, a renowned practitioner of homeopathy.
Ahmed gave the building to his two daughters, one of them Rokonuddin’s wife Naima, said caretaker Helal Uddin.
Helal Uddin worked as the family chauffeur for eight years, said they have been missing for almost a year.
“They talked about going to Malaysia first, then to another Muslim country. I don’t know about much after that,” he added.
“Rokonuddin’s eldest daughter Rezwana and her husband were students of North South University, but didn’t finish. The younger daughter studied at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College,” said ASI Mosfafiz.
Saad Qayes is listed as Rokonuddin’s son in a handout provided by the police but it was later confirmed that he is Rezwana’s husband.
Two militants from the separate attacks in Dhaka’s Gulshan and Kishoreganj’s Sholakia were also students of the private university.
The university has suspended its pro-vice chancellor M Gias Uddin Ahsan arrested on charges of sheltering the killers from the Gulshan cafe.
The caretaker Helal said Naima Akhter was a ‘devout lady’. “Her two daughters started wearing the Hijab a few years before their disappearance.”
The flats inside the building belong to Naima and her sister ‘Halima’, who practices homeopathy at a pharmacy on the ground floor of the building, named after their father.
Halima lived in the same area but not in the flats she inherited from her father, said Helal, who refused to let anyone inside the house, saying ‘he did not have permission’.
Police official Mostafiz said, “The family made a call home after leaving the country.
“They said ‘we are in a Muslim country, we are well. We are never returning to Bangladesh. You can take and distribute the property we have left behind’.”
Naima Akhter was a teacher at Jessore’s Michael Modhushudon College.
“The then principal Namita Rani Biswas informed the education ministry about her not returning from leave of 45 days,” he said.