A 26-year-old man died after being beaten up by a team of policemen in the Kazir Chawra area of Lalmonirhat on Thursday.
Locals said the man, Rabiul Islam, got into an argument with officers when the police team detained him on suspicion of being a gambler around 10:00pm at a Baishakhi Mela, a traditional programme celebrating the first day of the Bangla new year.
About five policemen then beat him up until he fell to the ground and lost consciousness, witnesses said.
Doctors pronounced him dead after he was taken to Lalmonirhat Sadar Hospital around 11:45pm, according to hospital documents.
Sub-Inspector Halimur Rahman, who led the police team, was closed from Lalmonirhat Police Station and attached to the district Police Lines yesterday afternoon over the allegation of torture.
The announcement of his closure came after locals blockaded the Lalmonirhat-Burimari Highway from around 2:00pm-3:00pm in Mahendranagar area demanding justice for Rabiul.
Police then came to the spot and convinced locals to remove the blockade with promises of a proper investigation.
Rabiul’s wife Monira Begum was among the protesters.
“I want exemplary punishment for those involved in the killing. They tortured and killed my innocent husband. I became a widow and my child fatherless,” said the mother of an eight-month-old girl.
Additional Superintendent of Police Rabiul Islam at a press briefing in the evening said, “We are investigating the incident… If he had been tortured by police and had died as a result, we will take strict action against the policemen. Once we get the autopsy report, we will know the cause of his death.”
The deceased was the son of Dulal Khan and Safia Begum. He was a timber trader.
Rabiul’s younger brother Sohag Khan said his brother never gambled. “He went to the Baishakhi Mela near our house to buy toys for his baby daughter. Sub-Inspector Halimur Rahman detained him on suspicion of gambling and beat him up severely. This led to his death. Police later took the body to Lalmonirhat Sadar Hospital… We were preparing to take legal action against the policemen,” he said.
Breaking down in tears, Monira told The Daily Star: “He was the only earning member in our family. The police … ruined our family.”
Sub-Inspector Halimur Rahman refused to talk about the matter.
Earlier yesterday, Additional Superintendent of Police Rabiul told reporters that the man who died was a gambler and was sick. “He was detained while gambling. When he fell ill and was admitted to the hospital, the doctor declared him dead.”
Sahadat Hossain, a doctor at Lalmonirhat Sadar Hospital, told reporters that he would not comment on the matter before seeing the autopsy report.