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Families and friends said the students had gone on an outing at Kebler Char when a mob attacked them apparently mistaking them for robbers.
But villagers said they had surrounded the youths while they were preparing for committing a robbery.
Students of different educational institutions and local people took to the streets and staged violent protests in Mirpur Dar-us-Salam area against the killings and demanded punishment of the culprits.
They damaged vehicles and put up barricades on Mirpur-Amin Bazaar road halting traffic for more than two hours.
The roadblocks were removed after local lawmaker Aslamul Haque and Mirpur Zone deputy commissioner of police Imtiaz Ahmed assured the protesters of proper investigation of the lynching.
A large contingent of
police and water cannons were deployed to prevent further trouble, witnesses said.
Al-Amin, a survivor of the mass beating who was taken to the custody of Savar police after treatment at Savar upazila health complex, told reporters that they had gone to the village on an outing and taken drugs there for fun.
Al-Amin said he and his six friends from Mirpur and Shyamoli areas had gone to Amin Bazaar by rickshaws after offering prayers on the night of Shab-e-Barat.
‘We all went to Amin Bazaar in rickshaws for taking drugs and sat on a field. Suddenly a mob of about a hundred villagers ringed us and started striking us with sticks giving us no chance to say anything,’ he said.
The slain students are Ibrahim Khalil, 22, a first year student of accounting at Mirpur Government Bangla College, Tauhidul Islam Palash, 24, a first year student of physics at Bangla College, Kanto, 23, also of Bangla College, Munif, 24, an under-graduate student of Bangladesh University of Business and Technology, Tipu Sultan, 23, of Tejgaon College and Sammam, 22, a O-level student at Maple Leaf International School.
Businessman Abdul Malek of the village filed a robbery case with Savar police station while police also registered a murder case against 600 unnamed villagers in this connection.
Malek said the villagers had been guarding the area where a robbery was committed at one Anwar Hossain’s house on July 6.
Iqbal Hossain, a friend of the victims, said Ibrahim and Palash were his close friends and they along with Munif and Tipu had gone to the countryside for a walk after offering prayers on the night of Shab-e-Barat at Dar-us-Salam mosque.
After visiting the spot, Dhaka district police superintendent Mizanur Rahman told reporters, ‘Initially, it was assumed that six robbers were killed. But now a different story is coming out. The tragic incident proves how terrible the consequences could be if people take law in their own hands.’
Savar police officer-in-charge Mahbubur Rahman said, ‘We are investigating the incident. The police are not yet certain what motive the victims had, but we have come to know that they all were students.’
He said the mob had attacked them on suspicion that they had been preparing for committing a robbery in the area.
The OC said police had recovered a number of sharp weapons from the spot.
Survivor Al-Amin, lying in the lock-up with his head bandaged, denied the allegations and said the villagers had attacked them with the weapons.
Amin Bazaar union Awami League general secretary Okil Uddin said, ‘Villagers were guarding the area after a robbery was committed there a few days ago. They might have suspected the youths to be robbers and attacked them.’
SM Rifat Shahriar Arnab, a cousin of slain Sammam, said all the victims were his friends. ‘Sammam was a good student.’
Arnab, who went to the Savar police station after hearing the news, said that Sammam’s parents Saifuddin M Aminur Rahim and Shamsi Ara Karim were both lawyers.
Sammam’s father said his son had left the house on Sunday night to say Shab-e-Barat prayers.
Mujibur Rahman, a railways employee and father of victim Palash, told New Age that his son had accompanied him to the mosque for prayers and they came back home together. ‘Palash went out with his friends at about 10:00pm after taking his meal,’ he said.
Police quoting villagers said that the ‘robbers’ had come to the village by a trawler. No such boat was found in the area after the incident, sources said.
The bodies were handed over to their families after post-mortem examinations at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.