I had met Sinha, a retired army major, for the first time last year sometime in July at a friend's birthday party.
He had been an unassuming young man. His long hair tied backward with a hair band. He was casually dressed in tee-shirt and jeans. He was unlike many defence personnel because he didn't exude that seriousness, that special vibe that an army major carries.
We talked in the middle of the party chaos – the music, the laughter, the high volume conversation – and later moved our conversation to the next room when we needed a little quietness.
I asked him why he had left the army, a lucrative, secured career.
He smiled and answered with two sentences: "I want to travel. Like you people."
He had been asking someone in the party about Everest climbing and all other related details. They were making plans. I was not interested because with my weak lungs I cannot take high altitudes.
We would meet a couple of times later in various social events. Each time I asked him about the progress of his Everest ambition. He said he wanted to travel the world.
Then when I was returning from a camping trip in Rajkandi forest, I heard of his death. The same birthday friend called and dropped the message. It went off like a grenade in my head.
How could that happen? Why would the police kill such a gentle person? Since the beginning of these so-called crossfire killings, I did not believe those scripted police narratives – that he tried to pull the gun when stopped and police shot him in self-defence. And surely, as a much repeated movie script, yaba and marijuana and whiskey were found.
I do not believe those as well. Those pages are taken from the same overused script as well. That's also part of the old game. You have to put someone on the spot, plant some yaba or marijuana on him.
And whiskey. As if the existence of the liquid, the very thing that can be perfectly legal for anybody to possess if he has a licence, makes a man a gross human existence worthy to be gunned down.
But then nobody else believed in those police accounts. And actions were swift. Within hours, the table turned on the cops who had shot him and who had ordered the unexplained assassination. They are now facing murder charges.
Hopefully the truth will come out soon and justice will be served.
But Sinha is not the lone victim who needs justice. What about all those over 200 persons who were gunned down by the police on the same Marine Drive? What about Ekramul Hoque, the Teknaf ward commissioner, who was shot dead on the same road? Whose last moment we all heard thanks to a phone call his wife made just before the killing. His daughter's last words: "Abbu, why are you crying?"
And then all those other crossfires. Every crossfire is a vote of no confidence in the country's legal and judicial system. Why should we take it anymore to see more Sinhas and Ekramuls?
Teknaf police station officer-in-charge Pradeep Kumar Das, a key accused in the Sinha murder case, was awarded Bangladesh Police Medal (BPM) in 2019 for "risking his life" in carrying out anti-drug raids in yaba hotspot Teknaf thana area, arresting drug dealers and recovering huge yaba cache. At least six operations led by Pradeep in 2018 were mentioned in the citation. Four of the operations involved arrests of alleged drug traders with bullet wounds and subsequent deaths while taken to hospital or on the spot.
So, can the authorities avoid their responsibility when such a police officer is awarded with official recognition and medal for such killings?
If actions were so swift in the case of Sinha, why not in other cases? So many allegations of cold blooded murders have been raised and yet none given any serious attention. Today Sinha has a powerful institution to stand behind him. What about others who do not belong to the defence services? Nobody campaigned for them and that does not mean that they were not done injustice, that those encounters were not as empty as in Sinha's case.
And the unanswered and grotesque question that keeps swirling in our mind is: Why Sinha? Why did they just shoot him as soon as he stepped out of his car? Why did they not even bother to know his identity?
This could mean only one thing – it was a targeted killing. Sinha must have come to know something while he was doing his video shoot that the Teknaf police did not like. What if this hunch is true? Is it something linked to unregulated yaba trade vs the regulated yaba trade?
Sinha wanted to see the world. Maybe he had seen something more than that which had cost his life.