Hours before his death in jail custody yesterday morning, Chhatra Dal leader Jakir Hossain Milon allegedly told his uncle that he might not survive.
“I am not feeling well. Please pray for me. Maybe I will not survive,” BM Waliullah, the uncle, quoted him as saying.
“He said this after I asked him whether he was being tortured in custody,” Waliullah added.
Jakir, 38, a vice-president of Dhaka city (north) unit of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, was declared dead yesterday morning after prison guards rushed him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Mahbubur Rahman, jailer of Keraniganj jail, said Jakir had a heart attack before he was taken to the hospital.
Waliullah said he talked to Jakir when the latter was being taken to prison from a court on Sunday evening.
Talking to reporters at DMC morgue yesterday Waliullah said he had followed the prison van carrying Jakir on foot.
The court sent him to jail when detectives produced him before it after a three-day remand.
As the traffic slowed, Waliullah had a chance to ask Jakir whether he was being tortured.
“His face turned pale when I asked him that. Hours later, I learnt that my nephew died. They killed him.”
Jakir's younger sister Sultana Rajia, who was also present at the morgue, alleged that Jakir died of tortures in remand. Police refuted the allegations.
“My brother was in good health before he was arrested. I do not know what could have happened to him in remand that he could not survive,” she said.
Sultana said her family desperately asked detectives and officials at Shahbagh Police Station about Jakir's condition while he was on remand. But they were told nothing, she alleged.
Jamil Hasan, deputy commissioner of Detective Branch (south) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said, “He expired in the jail, not in police custody. The jail authorities had taken him in custody from police.
“Jail authorities never take custody of any accused if they are not fit. Since they took him into their custody, they found nothing wrong [with his health].”
Jakir, father of two girls, was arrested along with several other BNP men near Jatiya Press Club on March 6.
A case was filed on the same day with Shahbagh Police station accusing him and several others of obstructing police in their duties and attacking police with an intention to kill. Detectives were investigating the case.
Jakir's family members said they saw numerous bruises on his body. They also showed photographs of the marks to reporters.
However, an inquest report prepared by Executive Magistrate Palsah Kumar Basu concluded that there were no injury marks.
The body has been kept at DMC mortuary for an autopsy.
Eltutmish Sawdagar, a lawyer who represented the BNP men, told The Daily Star that Jakir complained of tortures and wanted to go to a hospital on Sunday.