As the verdict in the high-profile case looms, Shipra, who was working on a documentary with the retired army officer at the time, has reiterated her demand for justice.
“The maximum punishment under the law — that’s what I want,” she said.
In July 2020, Shipra, a student of Film and Media Studies at Dhaka’s Stamford University, along with her classmates Shahedul Islam Sefat and Tahsin Rifat Noor went to Cox’s Bazar’s Himchhari with Sinha to shoot a travel documentary.
But on Jul 31, Sinha was fatally shot by police at a checkpoint on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive while driving back to the Nilima Resort in Himchhari after filming.
Seven months after the trial opened, the Cox’s Bazar District and Sessions Judge’s Court will deliver the verdict on Jan 31 against 15 suspects in the murder case filed by Sinha’s sister Sharmin Shahriar Ferdous.
Shipra, who held a passion for filmmaking, met Major Sinha while travelling to Tanguar Haor in 2018. They soon developed a friendship and decided to make a travel docuseries together.
They also started a YouTube channel and a Facebook page called ‘Just Go’ before heading to Cox’s Bazar to film a documentary. Sefat and Noor accompanied them to help out with the shooting and editing.
Ever since Sinha’s death, grief has been a constant companion for Shipra. But she is trying to keep her emotions at bay ahead of the verdict.
“Anything can happen [with the verdict]. It’s got nothing to do with my satisfaction or dissatisfaction.”
On the night of Sinha’s murder, Shipra was also arrested following a raid on the resort. Police also said they seized drugs from Sinha’s vehicle and the resort.
The next day, a case was started against Shipra under the Narcotics Act with the Ramu Police Station. Sefat, who was with Sinha when he was killed, was also charged over the alleged recovery of drugs from the car in a case with the Teknaf Police Station.
Cox’s Bazar police subsequently claimed they fired in self-defence when Sinha brandished a pistol after obstructing a search of his vehicle at the checkpoint.
But doubts were cast on the police’s version of events, The incident brought renewed focus on the issue of extrajudicial killings, prompting the home ministry to form a high-level committee to look into it.
Later, in August 2020, Sinha’s sister Sharmin Shahria Ferdous started a murder case against nine policemen, including Teknaf police chief Pradip Kumar Das and Inspector of Baharchara Police Outpost Liakat Ali.
Afterwards, seven policemen, including Liakat and Pradip, surrendered to the court in connection with the case.
Pradip and Liakat, along with five other officers were then withdrawn as the Cox’s Bazar unit of the police went through a major overhaul.
Ten days after their arrest, Shipra and Sefat were released on bail. They were later absolved of any wrongdoing after an investigation by the Rapid Action Batallion found no substance in the charges brought by the police.
Shipra later alleged that personal photos and videos were being circulated on social media through various channels in an attempt to harass her and steer the case in a different direction.
In an interview with exposetimes.comat the time, she had said, “I want justice. Why Sinha was killed? Why were we arrested? Why are we facing such uncertainty? Someone, somehow, is trying to steal our dreams, for which we have done so many things, faced so many odds. We want to keep the dream alive.”
“I won’t let Sinha’s dream die.”