On January 8, 2012, Jahangirnagar University student Zubair Ahmed was mercilessly beaten and stabbed by a rival group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists on the campus. After fighting a losing battle, he succumbed to his injuries the next day (today). Since then, six years have passed.
But, much to the frustration of the family of the victim, four convicted killers, who fled the dock of a Dhaka court on February 23 in 2014, are yet to be put behind bars.
The convicts -- Khandaker Ashiqul Islam alias Ashiq, Khan Mohammad Rois alias Shohan, Mahabub Akram and Ishtiaque Mehboob alias Arup -- escaped justice, sensing that their bail would be denied. However, no case was filed in this connection.
After quizzical vanishing from lower court, the four accused have been absconding after obtaining visa, passing through the immigration and finally flying overseas.
While the law enforcement agencies are mostly in the dark about their whereabouts, The Daily Star has found that all four are roaming freely in Malaysia and maintaining a good lifestyle there. The convicted killers are now hanging out together in night clubs and resorts and going to the movies, according to their own Facebook posts.
The newspaper checked with some classmates of the killers. The classmates confirmed that the Facebook accounts are run by the fugitives -- Ashiq, Shohan, Akram and Arup.
On December 31, Arup on his Facebook account posted a “Happy New Year” selfie with Akram, saying that he is feeling pity for the Bangladeshis as the authorities have banned rooftop party on 31st night.
On November 25, Ashiq, Shohan and Arup were seen at a programme, "Bangladesh Students' Night", at Dewan Tunku Canselor Hall at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, according to the Facebook post of Arup.
Shohan, who was handed down death sentence for the murder, wrote on his Facebook recently that he is “feeling chill” at Zouk Club, a dance club in Kuala Lumpur.
Besides, all the four condemned killers were seen in a group photo taken at a cineplex in Kuala Lampur last month. The Daily Star has collected screenshots of online activities of the killers.
The Daily Star recently contacted the officers-in-charge of the local police stations at the permanent addresses of the fugitives.
Shahid Ullah, the OC of Amtoli Police Station, said they did not receive any warrant against Shohan, reports our Patuakhali correspondent.
Imdadul Haque Sheikh, the OC of Jhenaidah Police Station, echoed the same about Arup.
Asked about Akram, OC Anwar Hussain of Sudharam Police Station in Noakhali yesterday said they received a warrant, but the accused had already fled the country.
“I will send a non-execution report of the warrant tomorrow [today]. We could not arrest him because he is now staying in Malaysia,” he added.
About Ashiq, the OC of Shailakupa Police Station said Ashiq went abroad after the verdict was pronounced. “We will arrest him as soon we trace him in Bangladesh,” said the OC, reports our Jhenaidah correspondent.
The killing of Zubair, an honours final-year student of JU English department and also a BCL activist, triggered huge uproar in and outside the campus. The university authorities filed a murder case on January 9, 2012.
On February 8, 2015, the Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 of Dhaka awarded capital punishment to Rashidul Islam Raju of philosophy department, Ashiq, Shohan and Zahid Hasan of zoology department, and Akram of government and politics department.
Six other students of the university were given life term. They are Arup of philosophy, Najmus Sakib Topu of biochemistry and molecular biology, Kamruzzaman Sohag of philosophy, Avinandan Kundu of statistics, Mazharul Islam of history, and Shafiul Alam Setu of statistics.
The high court on January 2 started hearing of the death references and appeal of the convicts.
With the killers still roaming freely abroad, Zubair's family demanded that the law enforcement agencies bring them back immediately.
With tears rolling down, Zubair's father Tofael Ahmed, who is in his 60s, said he had buried all his hopes six years back.
“I wanted my youngest son to be a high government official. But I received his battered and lifeless body instead,” an emotional Tofael recently told The Daily Star in his Patuakhali's Khepupara residence.
His mother is still in deep shock and often cries remembering Zubair's memories with the family, he added. The family now expects the High Court would uphold the lower court verdict.
The trial court in its judgment said the verdict was exemplary, asserting that it was the first time when capital punishment was given to anyone over any murder committed on the campus of a public university. The court delivered the verdict in presence of Shohag, Mazharul, Setu, Avinandan and Topu.
Raju and Zahid did not appear before the court that day. Though Raju surrendered later, Zahid, who was given death sentence, is still on the run.
[Our Patuakhali correspondent Sohrab Hossain also contributed to this report]