Missing Bangladeshi Lawyer’s Body Found; Widow Arrested

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
180404_Rathish_Chandra_620.JPG Bangladeshi police stand guard in front of a building where investigators found the body of lawyer Rathish Chandra Bhowmik in northwestern Rangpur district, April 4, 2018.

Bangladeshi authorities said Wednesday they had arrested the wife of a missing prominent Hindu lawyer, whose body was found later in the day, on suspicion that she and her alleged lover conspired to kill him by drugging and strangling him.

Investigators dug up the corpse of Rathish Chandra Bhowmik, who had served as a state prosecutor in high-profile murder trials against Muslim extremists and went missing last week, from the ground floor of a building under construction in northwestern Rangpur district, police said.

Police arrested Bhowmik’s wife, Snigdha, and three others over allegations that her extramarital affair led to his murder. News of his disappearance made national headlines and caused protests in recent days, fueling speculation that Bangladeshi extremists might have taken him.

“Rathish Bhowmik was murdered over a family feud out of an extramarital affair of his wife,” Benazir Ahmed, director-general of the special police wing, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), told a news conference.

“We have arrested four people, including his wife, on suspicion of having links to this murder.”

The wife’s alleged lover, Quamrul Islam, was among the four taken into custody in connection with the killing of Bhowmik, 58. Both Snigdha and Islam were high school teachers in Rangpur, and the two other suspects were students of hers who allegedly helped them bury the attorney’s body, police said.

Snigdha and Islam had planned the murder for two months, Ahmed said, alleging that the suspects carried out the plot by feeding the attorney milk and rice laced with 10 sleeping pills on March 29.

“Later, both Snigdha and Quamrul strangled him with a scarf,” Ahmed said. He said the suspects hid the body in a wooden closet and took it to a building not far from the lawyer’s home. Two of the woman’s students assisted in burying the lawyer, he said.

Rathish Bhowmik
Rathish Bhowmik


Police launched a massive search for Bhowmik after relatives reported him missing since early Friday morning. His disappearance spurred huge demonstrations in Rangpur and other parts of the country, with lawyers demanding his immediate rescue.

Bhowmik was the legal affairs secretary of the district unit of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party. He was a popular leader in the minority Hindu community and served as a trustee of the Dhaka-based Hindu Religious Welfare Trust.

The lawyer disappeared about two weeks after eight militants belonging to the outlawed militant group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were sentenced to death for murdering a caretaker at a Sufi shrine in November 2015.

Bhowmik had also appeared as a prosecutor in the trial of five JMB militants, who were also sentenced to death for the murder of a Japanese farmer living in Bangladesh, Kunio Hoshi, three years ago.

Bhowmik’s younger brother, Shushanto, said he was last seen driving his motorbike.

“At first we thought that militants were involved,” he said. “Now we have come to know that my sister-in-law killed my brother. … She could have sought a break up and began afresh with her lover. Why was the killing necessary?”


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