Police in Bangladesh on Thursday said they were investigating the reported disappearance of a professor and scholar of Islamic extremism who was last seen by his family two days ago.
Mubashar Hasan, an assistant professor of political science at the private North South University in Dhaka, had feared for his safety in the days leading up to his disappearance on Tuesday night, according to human rights activists. They warned he could be the latest in a series of disappearances in the country since Aug. 22.
At least nine people have been reported missing since then, police records show.
“We have been trying to find the missing teacher,” Moshiur Rahman, the officer-in-charge of Khilagaon police station in Dhaka, told BenarNews, referring to the professor.
The authorities opened the investigation after Hasan’s father, Motahar Hossain, reported him missing at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to Dhaka police and Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
The professor was last seen at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Bangladeshi capital, according to his father.
“The law enforcement agencies have been providing assistance. We hope that we will soon get him back,” Hossain wrote in a Facebook post. “This is my fervent appeal to the government, try your best to trace my son. I would appeal [for] everyone to pray for my son’s return unharmed.”
Col. Emranul Hasan, a RAB unit commander, told reporters that investigators took Mubashar’s laptop computer from his home, but found no evidence regarding his disappearance.
“He has done some research on Islamist extremism in Bangladesh. His disappearance could be linked to his work,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton told Agence France-Presse.
Zayedul Ahsan, the CEO of a private TV station, said Mubashar had been fearful in the days prior to his disappearance.
In a Facebook post, Ahsan wrote that Mubashar had told him about two strangers who introduced themselves as students and came to his residence. He said he suggested that Mubashar install a closed-circuit security camera at his house.
The government must take action over the professor and other missing persons, said Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.
“The right to live a fearless life is the precondition to basic human rights. Every citizen has been in fear. The state cannot shrug off its responsibility in such a way,” Rahman told BenarNews.
He was responding to a comment made a day earlier by the home minister. Rahman said that trust of the law enforcement agencies would plummet if officers failed to investigate reports of missing persons.
“Some people have willfully gone into hiding to embarrass the government,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had told reporters on Wednesday.
Political figures, journalists missing
Among the people reported missing is Sadaat Ahmed, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who was last seen in Dhaka on Aug. 22. His wife filed a missing person’s report with police that day, claiming that plainclothes police officers had dragged him from his car.
Five days later, political party leader Aminur Rahman and Aniruddha Roy, went missing.
“Only I know how we have been living. It is better to die than live like this. I have been running to the police, RAB and human rights groups from dawn to dusk,” Shashwati Roy told BenarNews.
Others reported missing including a student from McGill University in Canada, an Islamic preacher and a journalist.
Mithun Chowdhury, president of the new Bangladesh Janata Party, and his aide, Ashish Gosh, went missing Oct. 27. Mithun’s wife, Sumona Chowdhury held a press conference to demand her husband’s return.