OC Pradip, Inspector Liakat to walk gallows in Maj Sinha murder trial

35

Cox’s Bazar, Jan 31: A Cox’s Bazar court has sentenced two ex-police personnel — former Teknaf OC Pradip Kumar Das and Liakat Ali — to death for the murder of Sinha Md Rashed Khan, a retired army major.

Judge Mohammad Ismail jailed six other suspects for life and acquitted seven others in the closely-watched verdict on Monday.

Former Sub-Inspector Nanda Dulal Raxit, ex-constable Rubel Sharma, former ASI Sagar Deb, and three police sources – Nurul Amin, Nezam Uddin and Mohammad Awaz – were sentenced to life in prison.

“From the start, we pushed for OC Pradip and Liakat to get the capital punishment,” said Sharmin Shahria Ferdous, the sister of Major Sinha.

“Today that hope has been fulfilled by this verdict. However, the seven who were acquitted could have received prison sentences as well. If that were so, it would be more in line with our expectations. But we will only be satisfied the day these sentences are carried out.”

Asked whether the family would push for an appeal against the acquittal of the seven suspects, she said the decision would be made after discussions with their lawyers.

SI Mohammad Shajahan and Constables Mohammad Rajib and Mohammad Abdullah of the Armed Police Battalion were among the seven people acquitted by the court.

Their lawyer Advocate Mohammad Zakaria expressed his contentment, saying he was happy to see “justice prevail in the country”.“By ensuring justice through this verdict, Bangladesh judiciary has moved one step further,” he said.

Pradip and Liakat, who were in the dock, did not immediately react to the judgement. Some of the six convicts who were sentenced to life in prison broke down in tears. Some of them protested the verdict.

In July 2020, police in Cox’s Bazar shot and killed retired army officer Sinha in an egregious abuse of their authority, sparking a public outcry.

Sinha, 36, was a member of the Special Security Force tasked with guarding the prime minister. Sinha had gone into early retirement to pursue his personal interests.

Fifteen suspects, including Pradip, were accused of murdering Sinha at a checkpoint on the Marine Drive in the resort town.

After the incident, the lid was blown on Pradip’s chequered past, which involved framing gunfights in the name of drug busts near the Myanmar border in Teknaf.

He had similarly tried to cover up the killing of Sinha as a ‘gunfight’.

In the wake of the incident, former officers of the armed forces demanded the arrest of all policemen involved.

After Sinha’s murder on July 31, 2020, his sister started a murder case against nine policemen, including Pradip and Inspector Liakat Ali, on Aug 5.

Four and a half months later, on Dec 13, the case’s investigation officer Md Khairul Islam pressed formal charges against the 15 suspects.

The trial opened after they were indicted by Judge Ismail on Jun 27, 2021. In the course of the trial, the court heard 65 testimonies, including nine eyewitness accounts.