Conflict over drug dealing: Locals
Refat Sharif, the victim of the much-publicised daylight murder in Barguna, along with his assailants Nayon Bond and Rifat Forazi all share one commonality - drugs.
The three were implicated in multiple narcotics-related cases and had been friends before their relationship soured after a conflict over drug dealing, say locals.
"Refat Sharif had a dispute with Nayon Bond over the issue of drugs and Nayon plotted against Refat by entrapping him in drug-related cases. Refat was jailed in a drug case," said human rights activist Md Hasanur Rahman Jhantu.
Refat Sharif was stabbed to death on a Barguna road on Jun 26 -- an incident that is still grabbing headlines as the plot behind the murder unravels.
A video of the gory incident showing Refat's wife Aysha Siddika Minny desperately trying to save him but in vain went viral and sparked nationwide outrage. Minny, the key witness in the case, was later arrested for conspiring with the attackers.
Police pointed to a conflict between Nayon and Refat over the former's relationship with Minny as the motive for the murder. But the issue of drugs surfaced as bdnews24.com investigated.
Nayon was named in eight cases and Rifat Forazi in four; most of these cases are related to drugs, said Barguna Police Station chief Abir Mohammed Hossain.
The dead victim Refat was implicated in two drug-related cases - one of which even saw him jointly named with one of his attackers Rifat Forazi-bdnews24.com found.
Refat spent 19 days in jail after being arrested with 100 yaba tablets in his possession on May 11, according to police. He was killed just a few weeks after the incident. Nayon and Rifat Forazi were seen stabbing Refat in the viral video. The other assailants included Rifat's brother Rishan Forazi.
Inspired by the celebrated British spy in fiction and movies, James Bond, Nayon and his accomplices opened a Facebook group called 'Bond 007'. The gang dealt drugs, carried out extortion and mugging in the locality, allege some locals.
Nayon, Refat and Rifat Forazi were all seen hanging out together but they fell out after Refat's arrest a few months back, they said.
The two brothers, Rifat and Rishan, are relatives of local Awami League leader and Barguna District Council Chairman Delwar Hossain and participated in different programmes of Bangladesh Chhatra League.
Nayon, on the other hand, was once a member of Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Chhatradal, the student wing of the BNP. It is alleged that he was later patronised by Sunam Debnath, science and technology affairs secretary in the district wing of Awami League. Sunam is the son of local Awami League MP Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu.
Refat's wife Minny was once married to Nayon, claimed locals. But Minny has repeatedly denied their union, claiming Nayon had forced her to sign the marriage document.
Nayon claimed Minny was still his wife when Refat married her two months ago, creating a deeper rift between two friends and culminating in the murder of Refat, OC Abir Mohammed Hossain had said earlier.
Barguna Police Superintendent Maruf Hossain also mentioned 'dispute over winning Minny's heart' as the motive behind the murder, but a video footage of the incident shows the 'conflict between drug dealers' playing a vital role in the murder.
The video footage from the CC camera at the college gate shows Rifat Forazi leading the entire process of capturing Refat, getting the sickle and stabbing him.
The question which then arises is why were Rifat Forazi and Rishan Forazi so keen on attacking Refat, if Minny had been the centre of the conflict?
Earlier, Refat and his accomplices had beaten up Rifat Forazi, seemingly because of the former's arrest a few months ago.
Refat was arrested carrying drugs on May 11 and went to jail, said Sohel Khan, assistant sub-inspector of Barguna Police Station. The video of Refat's arrest had spread on Facebook, and he held Nayon responsible for it.
He was released from jail in the beginning of June and launched an attack on Rifat Forazi, which incensed the Forazi brothers, according to locals.
Dulal Shorif, Refat's father has been denying the drug charges against his son, claiming he had been snared by Nayon. The row of drug dealing between Refat and Nayon was mentioned by Minny's uncle Abu Saleh too.
"On Jun 24, two days before his murder, Refat snatched the mobile phone of a young man called Helal as he bought yaba pills from him but never paid for it," he said.
Helal went to Nayon Bond to help him recover his mobile phone and Nayon requested Minny to do it, said Abu Saleh.
A meeting between Minny and Nayon the day before murder, mentioned by the investigating officers, was related to that phone."Minny was physcally abused by her husband when she tried to recover the phone. She told Nayon Bond about the incident who in turn sought to punish Refat for attacking her," said a police official, requesting anonymity. The plot to murder Refat then unfolded in the 'Bond 007' group thread on Facebook messenger. The messages showed that Rifat Forazi was asking another group member to come to the college with a sickle.
Gangs of young criminals similar to Bond 007 have been terrorising the people of Barguna district. These groups include 'Team 61', 'Larelappa,' 'Honey Bond' etc. They do drugs and roam around the city on motorbikes, allege locals.
The primary motive behind the murder of Refat is rooted in 'drugs and young gangs' said Barguna District Citizen Rights Conservation Council President Advocate Md Anisur Rahman.
"The young men have to go through three stages of scrutiny before they are enlisted into these gangs. Firstly, they have to take drugs, secondly, they have to deal drugs and lastly, mug or extort people when needed," he said.
Many of these gang members ride expensive bikes and use smartphones worth Tk 60,000, which points to drug trading as their main source of income, said Anisur.
Almost all educational institutions in Barguna have 'drug gangs' in them, leading the students to do drugs, said human rights activist Hasanur Rahman.
The nexus of drug dealers is patronised by Sunam, the son of local MP Dhirendra, alleged Barguna Chhatra League President Zubair Adnan Anik. The gangs are created by Sunam, he said.
Nayon, who was killed in a 'shootout' with police once had a 'good' relationship with Sunam, said Nayon's mother Shahida Begum. But the relationship deteriorated during the last upazila election, she added.
Sunam denied all allegations, saying a group of Awami League leaders opposed his father Dhirendra getting the Awami League nomination in the parliamentary election and are now raising false allegations of drug dealing against Sunam to smear his father.
People of Barguna demanded that the authorities conduct a drive against drug dealers in the town following the death of Refat. There will be more murders if the authorities do not take action against them, said Nazma Begum, president of Barguna Zila Mohila Parishad.