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Bangladesh's ‘Journalist Couple’ Murder Investigation Turns to Farce

On February 11, 2012 news editor of Maasranga TV Sagar Sarwar and his wife Senior reporter of ATN Bangla Meherun Runi were brutally murdered in a rented house in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka (See Global Voices report)। On that day the then Home Minister Sahara Khatun declared that [bn] their murderers will be caught within 48 hours. When the deadline passed a lot of protests were initiated by bloggers and journalists. But there was no headway in the investigation. Recently there was a change in the Home Minister's position and Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir took charge of the post.

Sagar & Runi, the murdered couple

Sagar & Runi, the murdered couple. Image courtesy: The Facebook Page”We demand justice for Sagar-Runi”

More than eight months have passed since the murder but there has not been any acceptable progress in the investigation. Under pressure, the incumbent home minister declared on 25 September, 2012 that the investigation will be completed and the mystery would be revealed by October 10, 2012. According to his promise just one day before the deadline he announced the arrest of seven suspects [bn]. The suspects have criminal records and have been arrested previously on charges like murder. A bounty of 1 million Bangladesh taka (USD 12500) was declared for the absconding caretaker. He was initially detained for questioning by the police. But the family members of victims claim that three persons have taken him somewhere.

Many journalists have not accepted the statements of the Home Minister. They claimed that the statement is unclear and confusing [bn]. According to them this does not reveal the mystery and the real motive of the killers.

After the murder Runi's younger brother Nowsher Roman filed a case in the Sher-e-Bangla police station. He wrote in Facebook last october 10:

The Facebook Status Of Nowsher Roman

The Facebook Status Of Nowsher Roman

Looking at myself I am wondering how helpless can a man be!!!! Me, my family is very unfortunate… feeling pity for myself. And Megh (the surviving son of the couple), my family, and those people who are being framed – my heart aches for them, their helpless parents, spouses… Is there no God???? Is there no God????(Quoted with permission)

Nowsher Roman

Nowsher Roman was present in the bloggers protest in front of the home ministry on 15 May, 2012

The mother of the slain journalist Sagar Sarwar thinks that the arrests are a setup [bn] and she said “We just want to know the truth, want to see the real murderer behind bars.”

Waiting

On 28 April 2012 bloggers arranged a road painting protest against the killings of the couple. Source: BDNews20.com blog

Asif Nazrul, a professor of the law department of the Dhaka Univerisity says in the Facebook page We demand justice for Sagar-Runi
that [bn]:

There are two conspiracy theories about this murder. First: They exposed a grave corruption of the government, so they were killed. Another theory is the murderers were connented with the ruling parties. Their Godfather is someone close to the government, who got assurance form the authorities that they will be exempted. If there is no acceptable investigation done these theories will seem more legitimate.”

After the murder, the police said that it is the work of amateurs. However, the current Home Minister said that among the arrested five are contract killers. Arafatul Islam, a diaspora journalist mentions in Facebook about this:

If contract killers were engaged then why family friend Tanvir was arrested? Who paid the killers? Who worked in the background? What was the motive of the murder? How the eight suspects are related to this case and how they were identified, I want to know answers to these questions. (published with permission)

Journalist Shawkat Mahmud wrote on September 26, 2012 in Facebook:

Since 1971 29 journalists have been killed (in this country). Out of this 17 people have died during this tenure of the government. many journalists were injured on duty. They are threatened regularly. The government created a cloud about the Sagar-Runi murder investigation. The Home Minister said after the murder that the killers will be caught within 48 hours. The IGP said that there is a significant progress in the investigation. But the detective branch officers said that the evidences have been destroyed. And we are continuing our protests.

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