Police, wife doubt student attackers’ story of cell phone theft.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, September 24 (CDN) — Authorities are investigating possible motives for the vicious killing of a church worker by students at Dhaka University.
A management student at the university and his friends are accused of torturing and killing Swapan Mondol, 35, on Sept. 12 in Suhrawardy Park, adjacent to the university. Mondol, a convert from Hinduism, was supervisor of youth mission for Free Christian Church of Bangladesh (FCCB).
The primary suspect’s friends claim they came to his aid after Mondol stole his cell phone, a scenario that Mondol’s wife and police said they doubt. His wife, Lucky Mondol, told Compass that she does not know why they killed her husband.
“He was an evangelist and earned good amount of money from his job, so he could not snatch a mobile phone in the park,” she said.
She said that when she rushed to Dhaka Medical Hospital after learning of the attack, she found her husband’s body lying stiff on the floor with two holes in his head. His body was smeared with congealed blood. He had been wearing a gold ring and a neck chain of gold, but those items and his cell phone were missing, she said.
Police suspect Mohammed Rajon and his student friends of the killing and have confirmed reports of other cases of violence by student groups who cite cell phone theft as a pretext for attacking innocent people.
Local police inspector Rezaul Karim told Compass the killing was cloaked in mystery.
“Some students of Dhaka University killed Mondol on a charge of snatching a mobile phone,” Karim said. “The students said they caught him red-handed, so why didn’t they just hand him over to us? If he had snatched anything from them, we would have recovered it from him.”
Police will file a murder case, Karim said.
“What a killing frenzy it was,” he said. “Nobody has the right to kill anyone, whoever he is.”
Karim denied Bangladeshi newspaper reports claiming that he said Mondol and three accomplices tried to steal a cell phone from Rajon.
Almost all Bangladeshi media portrayed Mondol, who studied theology at the Christian Development Center in Dhaka and completed graduate work in theology in Bangalore, India, as a thief who worked among park prostitutes.
“I am so shocked by the media, which published vicious calumnies about him,” she said. “The media reports added fuel to the flames and indirectly supported the lynch mob.”
Some newspapers quoted her even though she never spoke to their reporters, she said.
“One top Bengali newspaper reported that my husband used to go everyday in the park, and that I told it to them,” she said. “It is a thumping lie. Around 15 to 20 days a month my husband used to officially visit various districts in the country for church work. How an innocent man died with scandal!”
FCCB Chairman Albert P. Mridha told Compass that Mondol, father of a 10-year-old child, was a loyal and sober church worker who worked for 14 years in nationwide ministry.
“We do not have any program from our church to work among the floating [park] sex workers,” Mridha said.
A week before his death, Mondol returned from a three-week trip to southern Bangladesh to oversee church activities, Mridha said. He had planned to preach at a revival meeting in northern Bangladesh.
“Most of the days of the month he used to spend on tour for church work,” Mridha said. “Sometimes he used to go to the Dhaka University area to see the cultural programs.”
Bangladeshi media also mistakenly identified Mondol as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) worker, to which Mridha also objected, saying a church employee is not an NGO worker.
“He was an honest and sincere worker in his duty,” said Mridha. “If 14 years of past experience is anything to go by, undoubtedly I can say that he was not engaged in theft. There was different kind of motive to kill him which we do not know. But killing him on suspicion of snatching was a pretext.”
Report from Compass Direct News