Missing Bangladesh ex-minister Salahuddin Ahmed was spotted in Meghalaya
Salahuddin Ahmed, a former Bangladesh minister and joint secretary general and spokesman of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who went missing over two months ago in Dhaka, has now been found in Shillong, capital of the northeastern state of Meghalaya.
Ahmed, who identified himself as a leader of the Khaleda Zia-led BNP, claimed he was kidnapped by unidentified people from Uttara area in Dhaka on the night of March 10.
“Yes, I am Salahuddin Ahmed, a BNP leader. I was kidnapped by a group of unidentified people from Uttara and I don’t know how I landed in this place (Shillong),” Ahmed told IANS before he was admitted to the under trial prisoner cell at the Shillong Civil Hospital.
Meghalaya Police officials said Ahmed was detained by city patrol police on Monday morning from Golf Link area after local people alerted police about some “suspicious movement” by a man in and around that area.
“Initially, we picked him up for interrogation at the Pasteur beat house. On interrogation, Ahmed claimed he was a Bangladeshi national and a former minister. However, he failed to produce any paper to prove his identity and citizenship,” East Khasi Hills district police chief Mariahom Kharkrang told IANS.
“We took him to the Shillong Civil Hospital for check-up before he was again brought back to the police station.
“The police officials who interrogated him found that he was not speaking comprehensibly. Hence, we referred him to the Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (MIMHANS). However, he was found to be mentally sound,” the police chief said.
Kharkrang said police have registered a case against Ahmed under the Foreigners Act, but police have not been able to interrogate him further as the Bangladeshi leader was still in hospital.
“We have not been able to talk to him much, but officials from the police headquarters have taken up the case with the Bangladesh embassy to ascertain Ahmed’s identity,” Kharkrang said.
MIMHANS officials said Ahmed was brought by police to the mental hospital around 11.30 a.m. on Monday.
“We have kept him under observation. According to the patient, he was suffering from some physical ailments, but we found him to be mentally fit. As he was mentally fit, we transferred him to the Shillong Civil Hospital this afternoon (Tuesday),” a MIMHANS official said.
“We tried to ascertain his identity and his place of origin. He (Ahmed) also requested the doctors to allow him to make a call to his wife, as he was not carrying any mobile phone,” he said.
Meanwhile in Dhaka, Ahmed’s wife Hasina told journalists that she received a phone call from her husband on Tuesday.
“My husband told me that he is alright and we are trying to reach out to him as soon as possible. We seek cooperation from all,” she told the media at her home in Gulshan area of Dhaka.
“I talked to my husband today (Tuesday) through the hospital authorities who made a phone call to me,” she said at the press briefing.
“They (the hospital officials) called me today afternoon and said my husband wants to talk to me,” she added. “I’m now leaving Dhaka for Shillong.”
But Hasina could not say immediately how her husband, who went missing in Dhaka, reached the Indian state.
According to Xinhua news agency, the BNP had staged demonstrations and called strikes many times in the past two months across the country in protest against Ahmed’s disappearance.
Ahmed’s family had earlier alleged that some men in plainclothes flashing identity cards of the Bangladesh Police Detective Branch picked him up from a house in Dhaka on the night of March 10.
Police have officially denied arresting Ahmed, who was made BNP spokesman weeks before his disappearance.