In their final report, Chawkbazar police said they did not find evidence to prove the charges against Mohammad Erfan Salim in two cases filed under the narcotics control and arms acts.
“We are sending the final report to court today. We did not find evidence to prove the charges beyond doubt,” Moudud Hawlader, officer-in-charge of Chawkbazar Police Station, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Erfan’s bodyguard Md Zahidul Mollah, however, is not off the hook yet. He is being charged with possession of an illegal firearm, said investigation officer of one of the cases, Inspector Delwar Hossain of the police station.
Prior to his arrest on October 26, Erfan, son of Dhaka-7 lawmaker and Awami League leader Haji Md Salim, was the councillor of Ward-30 under Dhaka South City Corporation.
The two cases were filed following a publicised Rab raid on his home and alleged torture cell in the capital’s Chawkbazar. A few days before the raid, a navy officer accused 37-year-old Erfan of assaulting him after Erfan’s SUV hit the official’s motorcycle.
Deputy police commissioner of Lalbagh zone Biplob Bijoy Talukdar was asked whether they thought the arms and illegal devices recovered from Erfan’s residence did not belong to him. He replied, “I can only tell you that we investigated the matter and we submitted the final report in accordance to what we found.”
According to the first information report filed by Md Kaiyum Islam, deputy additional director of Rab-3, on October 26, 2020, they found illegal arms from Erfan’s bedroom and an adjacent room.
“We entered Erfan Salim’s bedroom and found a black pistol whose barrel was 6 inches long, and the butt was white in colour. The gun had two bullets and a magazine. The bullets were embossed with the words ‘KF’ and ‘7.65’,” described DAD Kaiyum.
He went on, “We entered a room called the ‘control room’ on the fifth floor where we found an air gun leaning against the wall beside the wardrobe. In addition, in the bottom shelf of the wardrobe we found two black daggers, one of which was 11 inches long while the other was 11.4 inches long. We also found one 8.5 inches long ‘Chinese’ cleaver, which had a black blade and a green hilt. The hilt itself was 18.7 inch.”
The law enforcers raiding the building found 38 black walkie-talkies, one pair of handcuffs and one drone camera.
Several other findings were not included in the FIR, but were seen by our reporters during the raid on the 15th floor of Madina Ashik Tower. Those included surgical tape, devices for monitoring radio frequencies and rope.
Lt Col Ashique Billah, media wing director of Rab, had told journalists on record back then that the 15th floor of the tower was used as a torture cell. “During our preliminary interrogation of Erfan Salim, we learned about this torture cell,” he had said.
During the raid, Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam had told our correspondents, “Erfan used to torture different people after bringing them to the room”.
In the days following the arrest, law enforcement sources involved in the interrogation of Erfan had told The Daily Star that Erfan installed a personal networking system and close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor his business activities and “empire”.
The sources said that using the walkie-talkie handsets, he was capable of maintaining a communication network throughout a 10-kilometer area. They said that as the devices operated on a special frequency system, no one was able to monitor the communication.
Erfan and his bodyguard have been in jail since their arrest.