Kolkata: On 8 April, the world came crashing down on 40-year-old Zareena. Her 73-year-old husband Ahmed Ali was arrested in Bangladesh’s Mirpur the previous day by the country’s police, and he actually turned out to be Capt. Abdul Majed, a former Bangladesh army man and one of the assassins of the country’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was executed on a long-standing death sentence on 12 April.
For more than two decades, Majed/Ali had lived in Kolkata and different districts of West Bengal as a humble, pious teacher, complete with a passport and Aadhaar card confirming his assumed identity.
Even Zareena, who had been married to him for nearly a decade, only found out that he was a most-wanted assassin through the local papers after his arrest. She had filed a ‘missing person’ complaint with the local police on 22 February, a day after he disappeared from their home in Kolkata, but once the truth was revealed to her, Zareena went into shock.
Now, she barely speaks and loses consciousness frequently, her relatives told ThePrint.
Silent man, would get angry when asked about past
Zareena told ThePrint that she was 31 years old when she was married to Ahmed Ali, then 64. Zareena, an illiterate woman from an impoverished family living in a village in Uluberia, around 55 km from Kolkata, was a widow with a young daughter at the time.
A neighbour brought the proposal to the family, and Zareena was married off without much probing into Ali’s past or family background.
“He always was an introverted man and never spoke much. I tried to ask him about his village and other family members many times, but he used to get angry,” she said.
“My parents married me off as the proposal came from a neighbour. We were told that he was a pious person and a teacher. I had always seen him reading namaz five times and living the life of a pious Muslim. He used to remain silent,” she said.
Nazimuddin Mallick, Zareena’s brother, said she is now suffering from a critical nerve disease. “She has been living a tragic and pathetic life. We are poor and marrying off the daughter is the family’s responsibility,” Mallick said.
“Her first husband died of a disease, leaving her alone with a child. In a couple of years, this second rishta came. We tried to find out his details, but we were told he was a teacher and earned well to keep our sister and her child happy. We only came to know about his identity on 8 April through the newspapers,” he said.
According to Mallick, after their nikaah, Zareena used to stay with Ali at his quarter at Bedford Street. He never spoke much with any of her relatives.
Sources in central security agencies told ThePrint that Majed had apparently fled Bangladesh in 1996. He later got two passports — one made in 2007, and another in 2017. Both passports and his Aadhaar card were made in his assumed name, Ahmed Ali.
The first passport now appears to be a fake document, according to sources. The residential address mentioned in it is Alimuddin Street in central Kolkata. The second passport, which the agency sources say is an original, was issued on 24 May 2017, with the residential address at Bedford Street in south Kolkata. Both passports state that his wife’s name is Saleha Begum, and his birth year 1947, according to Mallick.
Disappearance and resurfacing in Dhaka
On 21 February, Majed alias Ali left his home at Bedford Street, saying he was going to buy medicines. He never returned, and his phone remained switched off.
Zareena lodged a missing person complaint the next day with the Park Street police station. Police sources said CCTV footage revealed that four men followed Majed/Ali to the bus stop, and boarded the bus with him.
There was no trace of him between then and 7 April, when the Bangladesh authorities announced his arrest in Mirpur, near Dhaka.
When he was produced before a magistrate’s court, he said he had come to Bangladesh on 15 March by air. But no stamp was found on his passport, sources said.