Slum boy 'witnessed abduction of Ilias'
Around midnight April 17, four men dragged Ilias Ali out of his car and took him away in another vehicle from near a municipal park at the capital's Banani, according to a slum boy who claims to have seen the incident.
“I was sleeping on a bench in the park when I woke up to a scream and saw four people pulling a man out of a car. They were slapping him hard in the face and hurling abuse,” the boy, Sohel Rana, told at Banani Police Station yesterday.
“Under attack, the man was shouting at the top of his voice: 'help me, save me'. Soon he was bundled into a car and driven away.
“Hiding under the bench, I saw three cars there. The kidnappers, all tall and strong, left in two cars, abandoning the third.”
The following day, Sohel figured, from newspaper and television reports, that the kidnapped man was BNP leader and former lawmaker Ilias Ali.
Hailing from Mymensingh, Sohel lives with his parents at a Banani slum and assists his father, a coconut vendor, in work.
“I spend night at the park if it's too late to return home. Our slum owner allows nobody in after 12,” he said.
Ilias, 51, along with his driver Ansar Ali, went missing while returning to his Banani residence around midnight April 17. Though nine days have passed, law enforcers have yet to trace the two.
Kazi Mainul Islam, investigation officer for the general diary filed after Ilias' disappearance, said they came to know about Sohel on Wednesday.
Asked if the boy was in their custody, the IO answered in the negative but said they had asked him to be in constant touch with them on security grounds.
Meanwhile, Ilias' wife Tahsina Rushdir Luna yesterday said three months ago Ilias told her that the government had put him on a target list.
“The government had chalked out a plan to do something against those who speak against it,” she said.
Luna quoted her husband as saying that detectives had made a list of such opposition leaders including Ilias.
“If the prime minister gives me back my husband, I will be grateful to her for the rest of my life,” she said, also expressing frustration over the law enforcers' performance.
IO Mainul, an official of Banani Police Station, yesterday submitted to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka a report saying they could not yet make a major breakthrough in search of Ilias and his driver.
In the report, the IO said he had earlier interrogated several political colleagues of Ilias, an organising secretary of the main opposition party.
On April 19, Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Moniruzzaman of Dhaka directed Banani police to submit reports to it every 48 hours on the progress of locating the BNP man.