Bangladesh

Assaulting A Navy Officer: Haji Salim’s son Erfan arrested

Mohammad Erfan Salim, son of Dhaka-7 lawmaker and Awami League leader Haji Md Salim, was sentenced to one year in prison yesterday for illegally possessing walkie-talkies and foreign liquor.

Rab Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam handed six months' imprisonment to Erfan for keeping the radio transceivers illegally and the other six months for the illegal liquor possession, said Lt Col Ashique Billah, Rab's Legal and Media wing director.

Erfan's bodyguard Zahidul Islam, 35, was given the same punishment for the same offence, he said.

It came after Rab raided Erfan's home in the capital's Chawkbazar for six hours from 12:30pm and claimed that they found 38 black walkie-talkies, five Virtual Private Server (VPS) handsets, one repeater, a router, two unlicensed firearms, and seven bottles of foreign liquor, said Rab officials.

Two more cases were being filed against Erfan under the narcotics and firearms acts, they said.

Earlier in the day, 37-year-old Erfan, councillor of Ward-30 under the Dhaka South City Corporation and son-in-law of an MP in Noakhali, and two others were detained in a case filed for assaulting a Navy official in the capital's Dhanmondi area on Sunday night. The incident happened after Erfan's jeep hit the official's motorcycle in the area.

Erfan was later shown arrested in the case.

Lt Wasif Ahmed Khan, 26, filed the case with Dhanmondi Police Station against Erfan and three others, Officer-in-Charge Ikram Ali Miah of the police station told The Daily Star.

Wasif also brought attempt-to-murder charges against the accused. The other accused included AB Siddique Dipu, 45, protocol officer of Madina Group, Erfan's bodyguard Zahidul, and Md Mizanur Rahman, 30, driver of Erfan's vehicle.

Dipu was still absconding till last night. Mizanur was placed on a one-day remand yesterday.

Rab officials said they recovered two unlicensed firearms -- one pistol and one air gun -- raiding the fourth and fifth floors of Erfan's nine-storey building on Debidasbhat Lane in Chawkbazar yesterday.

They said the walkie-talkies they seized are usually used by members of different government agencies. They said they found a telescope used to see objects as far as three to four kilometres away. Besides, the VPS, repeater and router, seized during the raid can be used to communicate in a radius of 10 kilometres.

Talking to reporters, Rab officials said they suspected that using the firearms and security equipment, Erfan and his men used to pick up his opponents after introducing themselves as law enforcers.

Rab also seized 12 cans of beer and seven bottles of foreign liquor from Erfan's room. Besides, they found 400 pieces of yaba from Zahidul's possession, said the officials.

Visiting the luxurious house, The Daily Star correspondent found what appeared to be a control room fitted with modern equipment.

In another raid yesterday, Rab found a torture cell at a room on the top floor of the 16-storey Madina Ashik Tower, which is a few yards away from Erfan's residence, said Rab's Lt Col Ashique Billah.

Rab's Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam said they found human bones, handcuffs, hockey sticks, knives, rope, yaba-taking tools and different types of security equipment there.

According to the statement of the case filed by the Navy official, a vehicle, with number plate Dhaka Metro-Gha 11-5736, hit Lt Wasif's motorcycle from behind in Dhanmondi area when he and his wife were returning to their Dhaka Cantonment house from Nilkhet around 7:45pm on Sunday after buying some books.

A man came out of the SUV and verbally abused them and left the spot. When the car stopped at a nearby signal, Lt Wasif knocked at the car's windscreen and introduced himself. After that, all passengers got off the vehicle and started hurling abuse and assaulting Lt Wasif.

"We will see your navy/army, we will see your lieutenant/captain … We will kill you now," Lt Wasif quoted the assaulters, adding that they punched and kicked him indiscriminately.

When his wife came to save him, they also assaulted her, the case statement said. They then left the place, leaving the car.

The complainant could identify Erfan as a councillor of DSCC and Dipu as a protocol officer of Madina Group owned by Haji Salim from his ID card.

On-duty police personnel and locals rescued Lt Wasif and detained the driver and seized the car.

Many videoed the incident that went viral afterwards. In the video, the injured navy officer was seen describing the incident to locals -- how he was beaten up even after disclosing his identity. "I was beaten up in front of everyone indiscriminately even after I introduced myself repeatedly that I am Lt Wasif. Thank God, I know some basics for my safety, I could survive … Otherwise they would have killed me today. They assaulted my wife too," the navy officer said, adding that one of his teeth was broken.

"I will not serve this country, if I don't get proper justice," he said.

Following the incident, Lt Wasif first lodged a GD with Dhanmondi Police Station on Sunday night.

Yesterday, a case was filed against four people, including Erfan and Dipu.

After primary treatment at a private hospital, Lt Wasif was sent to Dhaka Combined Military Hospital.

Police said it was lawmaker Haji Salim's vehicle with MP sticker. Mainly the protocol officer uses the vehicle. Haji Salim was not in the car during the incident. His son and bodyguards were in the car.

Sajjadur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Ramna division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said they were scrutinising the CCTV footage of the area to know what actually happened and would take action accordingly.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said none of those involved in the incident would be spared.

"If anyone commits a crime, they will be punished. No matter who they are or whether they are public representatives, everyone has to face the law," the minister told journalists at his Dhanmondi residence.

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