A U of T student is in police custody in wake of the attack and hostage crisis in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
Armed militants, who allegedly professed allegiance to ISIS, entered a café in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter on July 1 and held patrons and staff hostage for 11 hours. The siege ended after Bangladeshi police forces stormed the café. Two police officers, 20 hostages — who were mostly foreign citizens — and six perpetrators were killed in the standoff.
Tahmid Hasib Khan, a life sciences student who has been enrolled at U of T since 2012, was among the 13 hostages that escaped unharmed. He was with friends at the café after observing Iftar — the daily fast breaking meal during Ramadan — with his family.
Khan is among the five hostages that have been in police custody since the incident. The reasoning behind Khan’s detention remains unclear.
Khan’s friends have set up a Facebook page entitled ‘Free Tahmid’ and are calling for his immediate release. According to the page, Khan has been denied contact with his family since his detention.
“His family has gone to all quarters to get information. But the police is keeping quiet,” read a post on the page. “You won’t find a sweeter kid and you won’t find a more decent family. Our prayers are with the family and Tahmid and hope this ordeal would soon come to an end and he will return to his family.”
According to another post on the page, Khan arrived in Dhaka on the day of the attack to celebrate Eid with his family and had intended to fly to Nepal on July 9 for a summer internship with UNICEF. On campus, he has been a member of the Bangladeshi Student Association.
Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, a family friend of Khan from Dhaka, called the situation “shady.”
“The Government nor the police is saying anything specific on why they have been detaining Tahmid for last four days. He was a victim of the siege and he could surely have lost his life like the rest 20 in the restaurant who were killed,” Ahmed told The Varsity. “And now the Police is treating the matter as if they are suspecting him as accomplice to the crime!”
“We hope Tahmid will be released without delay, without any bad record on him,” said Ahmed.