Harris Chowdhury’s cousin and Sylhet district BNP’s former vice president and Kanaighat upazila parishad’s former chairman Ashiq Uddin Chowdhury on 11 January posted a status on Facebook on 11 January. Attaching photos of Harris Chowdhury and himself, Ashik Chowdhury hinted about the death of Harris.
Amidst speculations over the fate of the once powerful politician, Manab Zamin published another report on 6 March. The report titled ‘Mahmudur Rahman, not Harris, has died’ claimed that Harris Chowdhury had been hiding in the country for last 14 years under an alias of Mahmudur Rahman
Talking with Prothom Alo the following day, Ashiq claimed that Harris had died around three and half months ago in the United Kingdom and was buried there.
A report of Daily Manab Zamin on 15 January claimed that Harris died in Dhaka after being infected with Covid. His daughter Samira Chowdhury said Harris died at a private hospital in Dhaka on 3 September.
Amidst speculations over the fate of the once powerful politician, Manab Zamin published another report on 6 March. The report titled ‘Mahmudur Rahman, not Harris, has died’ claimed that Harris Chowdhury had been hiding in the country for last 14 years under an alias of Mahmudur Rahman. He made new passport and national identity card under the name of Mahmudur Rahman.
During his stay at an apartment in the city’s Panthapath area for last 11 years, Harris would identify himself as a retired professor. The report claimed that he breathed his last at Evercare Hospital on 3 September and was buried in Savar.
Harris was sentenced to life in prison on 10 October, 2018 in case over a grenade attack carried out at a rally of Awami League president Sheikh Hasina on 21 August in 2004. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 1 million the same year in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. He is also an accused in the murder case of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria. The name of Harris still appears in the list of Interpol red notice.
Police headquarters sources said once the news of Harris Chowdhury’s death broke, National Central Bureau (NCB) at the police headquarters has asked authorities to provide information about the news.
NCB is the Interpol’s correspondence desk in the country. They are supposed to inform Interpol about removal of anyone’s name from its red notice.
Later the police headquarters sent a letter to Crime Investigation Department (CID) of police in this regard. CID, along with Sylhet district police, is now investigating the matter.
A reliable source of CID told Prothom Alo that they started to search for the death certificate of Harris Chowdhury once the speculations spread in mid-January. They searched for the death certificate in the UK and some other countries. The CID still believes that Harris Chowdhury fled the country as soon as the caretaker government launched a crackdown on politicians-businessmen in 2007. They learned from various sources that Harris was not staying in the country. Some people also claimed to have seen him abroad.
A passport was issued against Mahmudur Rahman, a name reportedly used by Harris, in 2013. That passport was renewed after five years. A CID official last night told Prothom Alo that no foreign trip was made using that passport.
Dhaka district police superintendent Maruf Hossain Sarder told Prothom Alo that they learnt a person named Mahmudur Rahman was buried at a madrasah premises on 4 September but they are not sure if that person is Harris Chowdhury.
Now they find resemblance
The residents of the building where ‘Mahmudur Rahman’ lived had seen Harris Chowdhury’s photo on many occasions.
It was difficult to match Harris Chowdury who had a thick mustache and would wear black sunglasses with the ‘Professor Mahmudur Rahman’ who used to wear punjabi-pajama and had a long white beard.
This correspondent talked with caretaker and guard of the building where ‘Mahmudur Rahman’ would live.
Caretaker Saiful Islam and guard Abdul Quader said they have been working in the building since the last three years.
They said ‘Mahmudur Rahman’ would live in a flat of 11th floor first and later in the 8th floor of the 12-storey building. He used to live here alone. A part-time female domestic help would work at his apartment and a madrasah student boy would stay with him later. Guests would not visit him usually. He told others that he had separated from his wife and his daughters lived in Gulshan. His daughter finally came towards the end of last August.
Saiful said, ‘Mahmudur Rahman’ was taken to hospital one morning. He learnt about Mahmudur Rahman’s death when he went to the flat on 4 or 5 September. The daughter stayed at the flat for some more days.
They say, now, after seeing the photos in national identity card and passport, can vaguely find resemblance between Harris Chowdhury and the deceased ‘Mahmudur Rahman’.