The five students confessed to their involvement in the killing, Monirul Islam, a joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told reporters at a press briefing.
The five, all aged between 19 and 23 years, were arrested during raids in different parts of the capital Friday night, the DMP official said.
The mastermind, whom the NSU students referred to as Borobhai or elder brother, and another one who took part in the killing mission are absconding, he added.
Referring to information gleaned during primary interrogation of the five, detectives said the decision to kill Haidar was taken one and a half months ago.
Split in to two groups—intelligence and execution, at least six, including the five NSU students, accomplished the killing mission on February 15, DB police said.
The revelations came during a press briefing at DMP media centre Saturday morning, three days into Home Minister MK Alamgir’s claim that seven had been arrested in connection with the murder.
The five were produced at the briefing. But journalists were not allowed to talk with the arrestees.
Detectives identified the five as Faisal bin Nayeem alias Dwip, 22, Maksudul Hassan Anik, 23, Ehsan Reza Rumman, 23, Naim Sikder Irad, 19, and Nafis Imtiaz, 22.
Dwip and Anik, who hail from Matuail and Keraniganj in Dhaka, are students of Electrical and Electronic Engineering department of NSU while Rumman and Irad, who are from Jhenidah and Brahmanbaria respectively, are students of Electric and Telecommunication department.
Niaz, who hails from Sandwip, is a student of Business Administration.
While Dwip passed HSC examinations from College of Development Alternative, Anik did his O- and A-level from Maple Leaf International School and Imtiaz from Sunshine Grammar School.
Rumman and Irad passed HSC from Jhenidah and Brahmanbaria districts.
Saying that all the five are from well-off families, detectives said fathers of Anik, Rumman and Nafis are businessmen.
Dwip’s father works as executive engineer at Chittagong LGED while Irad’s father lives in Dubai.
According to DB police, the five came to know each other at the varsity prayer room and became friends. They later started to meet and share their ideas through Internet.
Law enforcers have found posts related with Shibir on their Facebook pages, Nazrul Islam Mollah, deputy commissioner of DB (North), told The Daily Star.
“But we haven’t yet found their direct political involvement.”
The “Borobhai” gave the NSU students addresses of some blogs and asked them to collect information about the writers.
Analysing the posts, the group decided to teach Haidar, who used to write under the name “Thaba Baba” a good lesson, Monirul Islam, a DMP joint commissioner, told newsmen quoting the arrestees.
Once the decision to kill Haidar taken, an “intel group” was formed to collect detailed information about the blogger analysing his posts on blogs and Facebook, and track him down.
The “execution group” consisted of three members—Dwip, Anik and Irad.
After collecting all necessary information about “Thaba Baba”, the intel group hit the road to identify him physically on February 9, Monirul Islam said.
Within the next couple of days, the group identified Haidar through his friends.
On February 11, Rumman followed Haidar from Shahbagh Projonmo Chattar to Mirpur-10 intersection. “Rajib was in a bus and the Rumman man followed him by a bicycle,” said the police official.
Rumman failed to find out Haidar’s house that day.
The next day, he succeeded to locate his home at Palashnagar.
“The group later started to collect information from the locals regarding Haidar’s profession, lifestyle, relatives etc to finalise their killing plan,” said Monirul.
Later, Anik and 2/3 others went to Notun Bazar and bought machetes and knives. Anik paid the money, the arrestees divulged.
On the day of killing, February 15, the group came to know from Haidar’s Facebook page that he would not go to Shahbagh that day and rushed hurriedly to Palashnagar by bicycles and bus, said Monirul Islam.
At around 4:00pm, they reached there, carrying the machetes and knives in schoolbags.
The group started to play cricket in an alley near the blogger’s house to keep watch when he returned.
As the sun was going down, Haidar was seen returning home.
When Haidar neared the gate of his house, Dwip hit him with a machete in a bid to sever his head from the shoulder, but failed to succeed in doing so.
After two more hits, the victim fell on the wall and Dwip continued to chop him, said Monirul.
Anik joined Dwip this time and started to stab Haidar with a knife.
As Dwip continued stabbing indiscriminately, he hit Anik in his big toe.
Ensuring Haidar was dead, the killers fled the area.
AFTER THE KILLING
While fleeing Palashnagar accomplishing their mission, the killers left a machete near a tea stall there, said the DMP official.
Hurt in his leg, Anik went to Kakrail area and threw away his sneakers in front of Department of Films and Publications office there.
After several raids in Kakrail, Khilgaon, Baridhara, Bashundhara and Panthapath areas, detectives succeeded to arrest Anik.
Acting on information gleaned from him, they later netted the rest four from different places in the capital.
According to Monirul Islam, police recovered Anik’s sneakers from Kakrail and some more machetes in a sewage line beside Shere-Bangla Nagar school acting on the confession of the arrestees.
The law enforcers recovered total six machetes, one bicycle, a laptop, a bag and eight mobile phone sets from the possession of the arrestees, he added.
Producing the five before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka after the briefing, Mainul Islam, a DB inspector who is investigation the case, sought 10-day remand for interrogating them.
Judge Tanvir Ahmed however granted seven-day remand.
The group chalked out the plan and executed it like professional killers, Monirul Islam said.
“From his description of stabbing Rajib, you can visualise Dwip as a skilled carpenter cutting woods.”
Sometimes before February 15, the group threw the ball inside Haidar’s house on the pretext of playing cricket and had a view of the inner side, he added.
The group earlier made an attempt to kill Haidar but did not find him in a suitable location, said Monirul.
“Three of them told us that they are not repentant for what they have done. They said it was their religious obligation to kill Rajib.”