The lethal assault on Bangladesh’s Holey Artisan Bakery cafe, which killed 20 individuals, despatched shockwaves via the nation. However, two months on, many questions stay – and there may be nonetheless disagreement over who carried out the assault. The BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan speaks to at least one girl in search of solutions, and nonetheless awaiting the physique of her husband.
Sonia Akther often acquired a phone name from her husband, Saiful Islam Chowkidar, each night time. He was anxious to know concerning the well being of his seven-month pregnant spouse. However on the night time of 1 July he did not name. Ms Akther felt a bit unusual however she went to mattress.
The shock got here at midnight when somebody instructed her that the restaurant the place her husband labored within the capital Dhaka was underneath assault.
Ms Akther desperately known as her husband’s cell, however there was no response. With no different possibility, she spent the night time nervously watching information on tv.
She feared the worst. A gaggle of Islamist gunmen had stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery the place her husband was working as a pizza chef and killed greater than 20 individuals, most of them foreigners.
She had a ray of hope when information got here within the morning that almost all employees members had been protected. However then devastating information reached her. Mr Chowkidar was the one cafe worker who died on the night time of the siege.
One other employees member, Zakir Hossain Shawon, died every week after the siege at a hospital whereas underneath police custody. Police stated he was injured within the assault – however his family told AFP news agency he had been tortured.
Ms Akther wept inconsolably when she spoke to me on the cellphone from their village in Shariatpur district, central Bangladesh. Mr Chowkidar had deliberate to go to their house quickly, to purchase presents for his or her two daughters, aged 9 and 7, for the Muslim spiritual pageant of Eid.
“How can this occur? He was the one incomes member of the household. What is going to I do with my two daughters?” Ms Akther lamented.
However their struggling didn’t finish there. The household needed to present him a dignified burial, as per Muslim custom. However the Bangladeshi police have refused handy over the physique of Mr Chowkidar, saying he is a suspect they usually want time to research.
“My world turned the wrong way up after I heard the information. He is harmless. There is not any proof in opposition to him. We have now just one request, please hand over his physique. We wish to bury him,” Ms Akther stated.
The demise of Mr Chowkidar is without doubt one of the unsolved mysteries within the Dhaka cafe assault.
It’s unclear how he died and who killed him. And it’s unclear whether or not he may very well be a suspected militant, as police say, or whether or not he’s merely an harmless sufferer, as his household declare.
Mr Chowkidar’s colleagues say he was making pizza close to the primary entrance of the cafe when gunmen bumped into the constructing firing weapons and detonating home-made bombs. After the siege ended, Mr Chowkidar’s physique was discovered ridden with gunshot wounds.
What precisely occurred was a thriller – and even the authorities appeared uncertain.
Within the days after the assault, some officials suggested that Mr Chowkidar might need been shot useless by safety forces who mistook him for a gunman.
In another report, police stated that they had mistaken Mr Chowkidar, a hostage, for one of many militants – however wouldn’t verify whether or not he had been killed by safety forces throughout the siege.
These stories were later denied by the authorities, who stated Mr Chowkidar was “a suspect[ed] member” of the militants.
And which group was behind the assault? That can be disputed.
The Islamic State group said it carried out the attack, and a web site linked to the group posted footage of 5 males it stated had been concerned within the assault.
The 5 males featured within the images had been ultimately named by police – and Mr Chowkidar was not among the many 5.
However the authorities denied IS was concerned, and stated the assault was the work of home militants from the banned Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group.
Mr Chowkidar was widespread with colleagues at Holey Artisan Bakery, who don’t consider he was concerned.
MD Delwar Hossain, an assistant chef within the restaurant who survived the assault, stated claims that Mr Chowkidar was a militant had been “not true, completely incorrect”.
“Saiful was an excellent individual. We did not discover any dangerous behaviour or dangerous angle from him. He was only a chef over there, a standard employees member like us,” he stated.
“He was an excellent individual and a chef – nothing greater than that.”
One of many homeowners of the restaurant, Ali Arsalan, remembers his final moments with Mr Chowkidar with fondness.
“A few hours earlier than the assault began, I collected some pizzas from him to present to a good friend. He stated the orders had been selecting up and he may want a further hand.”
The pizza chef was fairly “a contented man, and arduous working,” Mr Arsalan stated.
The Bangladeshi police say Mr Chowkidar continues to be a suspect and investigations are happening to seek out out whether or not there was any hyperlink between him and the militants.
“After ending our investigation, we will let you know about his position in that incident,” Masudur Rahman, a spokesperson for Dhaka Metropolitan Police instructed the BBC.
Mr Rahman stated they had been withholding his physique for additional forensic examination and awaiting a report.
“After we full our DNA take a look at report then we’ll determine, and if the relations apply to get the useless physique then we’ll think about it,” Mr Rahman stated.
Within the meantime, Mr Chowkidar’s household say they haven’t acquired any monetary assist from anybody and usually are not certain how will they survive sooner or later with none earnings.
They fervently hope that his identify is cleared and that they won’t need to reside underneath a shadow of suspicion.
Mr Chowkidar’s physique could also be handed over to the household ultimately however Ms Akther says part of her additionally dreads the day.
“My two daughters are too younger to know what has occurred to their father. They hold calling his cell on daily basis nevertheless it’s switched off.
“My youngest one nonetheless thinks that he’s in Dhaka and shall be coming house quickly with presents.”