Summaries of incidents and allegations
1. Asmat Ali is accused of possession of drugs and held by the police; he is told to get money or risk jail; he tries unsuccessfully to get the money and commits suicide.
2. Kishore Kumar Das is taken from his house by RAB personnel allegedly for having homemade bombs; he is held incommunicado for three days and tortured; the RAB make a fake record of arrest and give him to the police; he is jailed.
3. Harun-ur-Rashid & Aslam Hossein are taken from their office by RAB personnel and allegedly confess to having illegal weapons; their families are offered their lives in exchange for money but cannot come up with the amount; the men are taken to recover the weapons at two separate locations in the early morning; both are killed in “crossfires”.
4. Kamrul Hasan Kamal is taken from his house by police; they tell a magistrate that he is a suspected militant; the magistrate gives them ten days; the police transfer him for special interrogation; the interrogators discover that he was arrested due to mistaken identity; he is sent back to the police; the police cover for the mistake by keeping a murder charge against him; he is jailed.
5. Inarul Islam Ena is stopped by police while driving his motorised rickshaw home; he is forced to take them around on patrol all night; he is taken back to their camp in the morning and tortured by one officer; he is released and tells other villagers; they protest; the officer is transferred.
6. Nayan Banu is told to open the door of her house by three plainclothes armed police looking for her son; she refuses; they enter by force and assault her; she dies; villagers protest her death; local authorities insist that the killers will be punished; a criminal case is opened but the police are not held in custody.
7. Rashed Ullah is taken from his house by police in early morning; he is assaulted while in custody; he dies; the police say that he was beaten by a gang; the family says that it is threatened by police not to complain.
8. Kasim Uddin hears that his brother is arrested by the police; he goes to ask them to release him; they assault him in public; he dies; villagers prevent them from leaving; local authorities come and insist that the killers will be punished; the police are allowed to leave; a criminal case is opened but the villagers remain doubtful of the outcome.
9. Rashida Khatun goes to a senior police officer to make an inquiry on behalf of a relative; a subordinate officer assaults her; she is taken under custody to hospital; the police pressure staff to deny treatment, and confiscate medical records; she is released; she is again denied treatment at the hospital; she gets treatment at a private clinic; she complains; a magistrate orders a judicial probe; the results are not released; the police threaten her to withdraw the case; they threaten staff in her government department also.
10. Deraj Ali & Abul Kalam Azad are called to a police station; they are detained in connection with a robbery; the police bring them to a magistrate; they are remanded for two days; the police torture them to obtain a confession; their relatives say that they were arrested and detained for political reasons.
11. Sajedur Rahman Sajid is arrested on an arms charge; he is brought to a magistrate; the police request seven days to investigate; the magistrate grants the request; he dies in custody after three days; the police and a local politician claim that he committed suicide; they try to pressure the family to accept this conclusion; the police record the death as suicide; the victim’s father and local community leaders say that he was killed on the orders of another local politician for personal reasons; the post mortem finds that it was homicide; the family and supporters complain; a murder case is opened by the same police station; the police record contradictory accounts of events; one officer is arrested and detained; the family and a local community leader lodge complaints against 12 officers; the local community members protest police inaction; three more police are suspended, others are transferred; the implicated local politician and an armed gang threaten to kill the victim’s family members; they also threaten the local community leaders; the local community leaders stop their protests.
12. Tera Mian disappears; his family suspects three persons; the police refuse to record a complaint; his dead body is found; the police lay charges against nine persons; the family say that the police are protecting the accused; they accuse the police of costing the victim his life.
13. Anjuman Ara Parvin, her sister-in-law & son together object to the police arresting her brother-in-law instead of her husband; the police assault all three; they assault the arrested man on the way to their station and at the station; they release him that night under pressure from local influential persons; three of the victims are hospitalised; two require specialist treatment; no action is known to be taken against the police.
14. Shah Shamsul Haque Tengku is assaulted by a traffic police officer and other police over a parking dispute outside a cricket match he is going to cover; other journalists protest by refusing to report the match; the police assault the journalists; they deny wrongdoing; the traffic police officer is suspended, another officer is withdrawn from duties; the High Court demands an explanation and compensation for the victims; a judicial probe and internal inquiry are launched; compensation is agreed; further medical treatment is offered for two victims; the police resist calls for criminal prosecutions.
15. A 12-year-old girl goes to work in a house; she is abused by the occupants; she flees; she is found by a traffic police officer; he takes her to his house; he rapes her; his wife threatens the girl; their neighbours find out; the local women’s council intervenes; the girl is rescued; the police move slowly to lay charges; the officer escapes.
16. Shahin Sultana Santa is assaulted and tortured by the police on orders of senior officers when she is caught up in a political demonstration; she is admitted to hospital; she is advised to abort her unborn child due injuries incurred during the assault; the police refuse to record a complaint; she lodges two complaints in court; a judicial probe is established; a police report is sought; fabricated complaints are lodged against the victim and her husband; the police repeatedly visit the family’s house; they move to a new location and withdraw their son from school; witnesses are threatened; the High Court orders the police to stop threatening and harassing the couple, and to explain why no police have been charged; the threats continue; the judicial probe is finished; the victim challenges its findings; a senior investigating officer threatens witnesses; a second judicial inquiry also contains irregularities; the victim’s husband is attacked and robbed on the street; a fabricated arms case is lodged against the couple; it is withdrawn after a bribe is paid; the first court case concludes that there is no proof of allegations; the legal interpretation is challenged; there are more threats; the victim’s husband is again attacked and robbed near his office; his assistant is harassed; the second court case is dragged on; the victim lodges a challenge in the High Court against the findings of the first judge; there are further threats, and offers of money.
17. Md. Masudur Rahman is taken from outside a courthouse by RAB personnel; he is found dead the next day; family members say that he was robbed, tortured and shot in cold blood; witnesses support their accusation; the RAB says that the victim had illegal arms and was killed in their exchange of fire with his criminal associates.
18. Abul Bashar, his wife & brother-in-law are attacked by a knife-wielding gang over a family dispute; they get medical attention; they lodge a complaint; the police close the case without laying charges; the brother-in-law asks why; the police threaten him to drop the case; he alleges that they have been paid by the alleged perpetrators; independent fact-finders confirm the allegation; the alleged perpetrators also offer money to the fact-finders.
19. More than 10,000 people are arbitrarily arrested in the lead-up to a day of opposition political party rallies, including: Rafik Khan, taken from his house and held for three days without charge; Md. Mazibor Rahman, taken from his house and held without charge and denied bail; Md. Khairul Islam, stopped on his way to work and implicated in a theft case, he is bailed out but his father waits two more days and pays a bribe for his release; Md. Jalal Uddin, stopped on his way home and held for two nights before going before a magistrate; a High Court order questions the legal provisions used to detain the victims.
20. Villagers in Nawabganj assemble to protest poor and overpriced electricity supply; they are blocked by the police; there is a confrontation; the police shoot into the crowd; at least 35 are injured; the police and electricity supply staff assault some of the injured; two die; there is more violence; other units are sent; the authorities lodge charges against more than 100 persons; the police require the families of the dead to conduct funerals without delay; the families cannot view the bodies; the police arrest three protest leaders; they torture the three at the police station; the three are visited in prison by lawyers, who note serious injuries; the villagers learn what has happened to the three; there are renewed protests; the villagers block roads; the police attempt to break the blockades; they are unsuccessful; they enter houses nearby and assault occupants at random; at least 50 are injured; the protesters hear of the assaults in houses; they become violent; a group of police is surrounded; they open fire again; six persons are killed on the spot, two die later; more than 100 are wounded, 14 require hospitalisation; the police defend their actions; a probe committee is established; police and local officials are transferred; some compensation is paid for deaths and injuries; no charges are laid against police and government officers; protests are held in other parts of the country in support of the villagers; these protestors also are assaulted by police; the police deny wrongdoing.
21. Villagers in Meherpur are assaulted in their houses by police and RAB personnel after chasing away a unit of plainclothes police whom they suspected were robbers; around 100 are injured–37 seriously, 35 are jailed, 67 are implicated in criminal cases; the police defend their actions.
22. Basudev Roy is arrested because of a fabricated narcotics case; he complains that he was arrested because he had failed to pay more bribes to a police officer; an internal investigation finds out that this is true; the officer is suspended but no criminal action is taken; the charges against the victim are not dropped, even though it has been found that the evidence against him is fake.
23. Zahirul Islam Litu is attacked at his workplace by ruling political party members; his brother lodges a complaint; the attackers come again and assault him with knives; police nearby do not intervene; he is hospitalised with the help of witnesses; he is found to have permanent injuries to arms and legs; his brother files charges; the police do not investigate; an accused reportedly files a counter-complaint.
24. Ratan, Azam & Mizanur Rahman are shot dead by police on a magistrate’s orders after protests at attempts to confiscate illegal sugar milling machines; 16 others are injured–7 seriously; only one gets assistance for medical treatment; officials lodge two complaints against local villagers; men flee the villages to avoid arrest; the remaining villagers are harassed; a judicial probe is established; no information is given on its findings.
25. Imon Chowdhury is assaulted by his in-laws during a family dispute; they hand him to the police; the police take him to their station; he is assaulted further, and threatened; he is brought before a magistrate and detained; the police deny that they assaulted the victim; they give two different accounts of events.
26. A 30-year-old woman and her husband are stopped on their way home by four local politicians and two accomplices; the husband is assaulted and the wife is raped; they lodge a complaint against the men; one of the two accomplices is arrested; the accused threaten the victims; the prime accused has his name successfully removed from the case.
27. Shafi Uddin Shafi is arrested in connection with a theft; he is taken before a magistrate and remanded for three days; the police assault him as soon as he is returned to their custody; he is taken to hospital but is dead on arrival; his body has serious injuries; the police coerce medical staff to alter the records of death; they allege that the man died of an illness; his wife and landlady say that he was in good health.
28. Md. Abul Kashem Gazi is assaulted on the street by the police; they take him to their station; he is detained overnight; his mobile phone is taken; he is assaulted while in detention; he is brought to a magistrate and released on bail; he lodges a complaint against the police; a magistrate orders an internal investigation; no result is known.
29. Imran & his mother Rozina Begum are assaulted at their house by the police and a gang after the son refuses to pay the gang extortion money; the police pull the mother from the house and tear off her clothes; they rob her jewelry; they threaten the victims to pay or have more trouble; the police refuse to accept a complaint; the victims make a complaint to the court; the magistrate orders a police investigation; no result is known.
30. Firoz Alam, Babul Voumik, Alauddin, Kawsar & Bidhan are killed when police open fire on a protest outside their station over alleged inaction after a jewelry shop heist; protestors allege that the police were involved in the crime; some 50 people are injured by bullets and beatings; two probes are set up to investigate; three officers are suspended; the case against them is cleared to proceed.
31. Azizur Rahman Shohel & Atiquer Rahman Jewel are arrested by the police after a complaint from fellow university students; they are tortured at the police station; they are hospitalised; the police claim that the two had snatched away their weapons; the case is taken up by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture; he receives no immediate reply from the government.
32. Abdur Razzak is beaten to death in jail by a gang as revenge for a complaint by his mother; she files a complaint in court about his death; the magistrate orders the police to take the case; the police distort the facts and the case is closed without the mother being informed; the mother lodges another case, which remains pending.
33. A 13-year-old girl is raped by her uncle, who is a local politician; medical evidence supports her allegation; the accused surrenders and is granted bail; he threatens the family and witnesses; he is put back in detention; the judge imposes unreasonable procedural demands on the family of the victim, and again releases the accused; the accused is rearrested but yet again obtains bail and is released; the trial is unnecessarily delayed.
AC Assistant Commissioner
Asmat Ali: Driven to suicide by police
VICTIM: Asmat Ali
At around 11:30pm on 3 August 2006 a five-member police team led by Non-Commissioned Officer Hossain Ali came to the house of rickshaw puller Asmat Ali. NCO Ali alleged that Asmat was cultivating drugs, and identified a marijuana plant among some flowers planted by Ali’s daughter. The police allegedly beat Ali in front of his family. When his mother and wife, Fatema and Hawa Begum, tried to intervene, they were kicked. The police took Ali away, but not to their police camp or the Jhikargachha police station. Instead they took him here and there and NCO Ali allegedly demanded 10,000 Taka (USD 140) from Ali or he would charge him with cultivating drugs.
Next morning a local Union Council member, Rabiul Islam, bargained with the police and had the amount demanded reduced to 4000 Taka (USD 60). Still Ali could lend just half from the council member and his neighbours. The police released him saying that he had the rest of the day to come up with the remaining cash. Ali tried his best but he was not able to get the money. The next morning he was found hanged from a tree beside his house.
Rabiul Islam alleged that when Ali was being was washed for his funeral an injury was found behind his left ear where evidently he had been hit while in custody.
Villagers in the area blamed the police for Ali’s death and said that NCO Ali had harassed and extorted money from many people by threatening to implicate them in criminal cases. The chairman of the Magura Union Council, Jainal Abedin, lodged a complaint against the five alleged perpetrators with the Jhikargachha police station, but it was not recorded until August 6. They were suspended from duty pending investigation.
Kishore Kumar Das: What’s that in your rubbish pit?
VICTIM: Kishore Kumar Das
At around 9pm on 19 July 2006, three unidentified young men came down a lane to the house of fisherman Kalipado Das on Jail Road in Jessore town. Kalipado’s wife Shushama Das found them suspicious and shouted, whereupon they fled. Four-and-a-half hours later, at around 1:30am on July 20, a Rapid Action Battalion team came in four vehicles and raided the house, but found nothing. A captain called someone using his mobile phone. After the conversation, he ordered the team to search the garbage pit adjacent to the house, where they recovered four tin cans which they declared were handmade bombs. The team then arrested one of Kalipado and Shushama’s sons, 32-year-old Kishore Kumar. A neighbour who is an official in Jessore Municipality told the unit that Kishore is a hard-working mechanic who has no connection with any crimes, but instead they allegedly forced the persons present to sign some documents and then took Das away.
For three days after his arrest, nothing was heard of Das. When his family members and journalists contacted the RAB office, they reportedly denied his arrest. Finally, at 10:30pm on July 23, RAB Warrant Officer Nasir Uddin Khan attempted to hand Das over to the district police, having recorded his arrest as the evening of July 23, for possession of the supposed bombs. However, the police refused to take Das into custody after they discovered that he was seriously injured. The RAB reportedly said that the injuries were caused by the young man attempting to flee, and took him to the Jessore General Hospital where he received inadequate outpatient treatment before being returned to the district police.
On the morning of July 24, SI Mursalin, the investigating officer, brought Das before a magistrate and sought five days remand to further investigate the case. However, the magistrate approved only one day, after which the police transferred Das to the Jessore Central Jail.
The young man’s family believes that the incident was precipitated by a land dispute with a neighbour whose son-in-law is an army major. Without their son’s income, they have suffered financial hardship that may force them to compromise with the neighbour.
In a separate development, the High Court Division of the Supreme Court took notice of the case and asked the authorities to explain the grounds for the arrest and whether Das was held in custody illegally. The order was given to the secretary of the Home Ministry, Inspector General of Police, RAB director general and commander of the RAB in Jessore. Since the court’s intervention, officials from different branches have reportedly visited Das’s house regularly and there are fears that the family may be pressured and coaxed into denying any complaints against the authorities concerned.
Harun-ur-Rashid & Aslam Hossain: One night, two “crossfires”, two deaths
In the afternoon of 14 July 2006 a Rapid Action Battalion team arrested business partners Harun-ur-Rashid and Aslam Hossain at their travel agency in Dhaka. The same evening they were handed over to a RAB-6 unit responsible for Jessore district. According to the Jessore RAB, Harun and Aslam confessed under interrogation to having hidden illegal arms at two different places.
Relatives of the two men allege that RAB personnel contacted them and offered their lives in exchange for 700,000 Taka (USD 10,000). The price was too high for the families, who could not raise even a third of the amount.
At 3:40am on July 16, Hossein was taken to Shekhhati Taraf Nawapara village three kilometres east of Jessore town, purportedly to recover the illegal weapons, when he was supposedly killed by “crossfire” as his associates ambushed the RAB unit. He was declared dead at the Jessore General Hospital. The RAB said that it seized one pipe gun and three bullets at the scene. RAB-6 DAD Jonab Ali lodged two complaints against Hossein with the district central police station on the same day under the Penal Code and the Arms and Explosives Act. The police and RAB alleged that Hossein already had cases against him for murdering eight persons in three separate incidents.
In the same morning, the RAB took Rashid to Krishnabati village beside the Jessore-Kolkata highway, four kilometres west of Jessore, again with the said intention of recovering weapons there. In a carbon-copy story, a group of Rashid’s associates reportedly ambushed and the victim was killed in “crossfire” as he tried to flee. The RAB said that it seized one pistol and one bullet from the place. Again, RAB-6 DAD Abul Kashem Razib lodged two cases with the district central police station on the same date, while the RAB and police claimed that the victim had five cases against him for the murder of nine persons.
According to villagers, both victims had been involved in criminal activity over a decade ago but had surrendered under a general amnesty in 1999. They succeeded in getting bail in the cases that were finally lodged against them and started business in Jessore. The Jessore district central police station confirmed to independent fact-finders that there had been no complaints lodged against either of the men anywhere in the country since 1999. Their relatives said that both of the men had stayed away from crime, despite tremendous pressure from certain politicians to do work for them, and had moved to Dhaka to escape their past lives.
Kamrul Hasan Kamal: Wrong man goes to jail anyway
VICTIM: Kamrul Hasan Kamal
At around 11am on 12 July 2006 a team from the CID Jessore led by ASP Ataur Rahman arrested Kamrul Hasan Kamal at his house in the new satellite town of Jessore. They gave no reason for the arrest, just handing him over to the district central police. On the same day he was produced in court and the police asked to interrogate him in connection with a murder and allegations that he was involved with a militant group that had claimed responsibility for a hundreds of bomb blasts on 17 August 2005. The court gave the investigating officer, SI Morsalin of Jhikargachha police station, ten days.
That night Kamal was sent to Dhaka for interrogation by Joint Interrogation Cell agents. After eight days they sent him back to Jessore. The interrogating agents and officer in charge of the district central police both admitted to journalists and human rights defenders that Kamal was arrested in error. It was a case of mistaken identity: his name was similar to a person that they had been seeking.
But to cover for the mistake, the police in Jessore sought to keep Kamal in under-trial detention in connection with the murder charge. The magistrate ordered him transferred to Jessore Central Jail pending further investigations, despite protests from his family and other concerned persons. There have been no inquiries into the wrongful arrest and detention by the police.
Inarul Islam Ena: Drive around all night; get tortured in morning
VICTIM: Inarul Islam Ena
Around 7pm on 3 July 2006, Inarul Islam Ena, a motorised rickshaw driver, was stopped by Bishnupur police officers while he was on his way home. Ena was forced to drive the police around on their patrol throughout the night. Early the next morning he was taken into their camp, where SI Abdul Mannan allegedly threatened to kill him, stripped him, and sodomised him. Later in the morning he was released.
Ena went back to his village and told others what had happened to him. Hundreds of people protested against the police on his behalf and demanded that SI Mannan be punished. But the officer in charge of Damurhuda police station reportedly dismissed the assault as mere “molestation”.
SP Md. Muslim of Chuadanga district said that SI Mannan was withdrawn from the camp. However, no criminal inquiries were commenced.
Nayan Banu: Beaten to death at home
VICTIM: Nayan Banu
On 16 June 2006, Montu Mian of Nikrail village lodged a kidnapping case with the Savar police station in Dhaka against seven persons over the elopement of his teenage daughter and her boyfriend two days earlier. The boyfriend and his father were among those named in the complaint.
At around 8:30pm on July 2, SI Mokhlesur Rahman, the investigating officer, came to the father’s house with two armed police constables. All three were in civilian clothes. The man they were after was not there, and his 65-year-old mother Nayan Banu refused to let the police inside, apparently because they looked like ordinary criminals. The police then became furious and forced their way in, whereupon SI Rahman kicked Banu in the abdomen. She fell on the ground and the three policemen proceeded to beat her with rifle butts and kick her with their boots. Several women from neighbouring houses ran to intervene but were also savagely assaulted. Nayan died in her doorway. Her neighbour Momtaj Begum was seriously injured.
When the villagers heard that Nayan had been killed by the police, an outraged group gathered. The police fled by taxi. That same night, people in the locality began protests against the police. The chief executive officer in the subdistrict, Salahuddin Nagri, came with ASP Saidur Rahman and assured the villagers that the alleged perpetrators would be punished.
Magistrate Suraya Parvin Shelly of the Dhaka Judge’s Court prepared the inquest report, which recorded injuries to the head, abdomen and back of the deceased victim. Doctors at the forensic medicine department of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital conducted a post mortem, but the details were not made public.
On July 3 a criminal case was opened, but the victim’s son, Badsha Mian, alleges that the Savar police refused to record his complaint properly when he went on July 4. Meanwhile, the key perpetrators, SI Rahman and the two constables, had been suspended from their duties but not taken into custody.
Rashed Ullah: A ‘gang’ killing at 3am
VICTIM: Rashed Ullah
At around 3am on 29 June 2006, a police team led by OC Kamrul Islam of the Hathazari police station raided Uttar Madarsha village in Chittagong and arrested six persons, including 18-year-old Rashed Ullah, whom they took back to their lock-up. While in custody, the police allegedly assaulted Ullah until he fell into a coma. At around 9:30am the same day they took him to the Hathazari Police Station Health Complex, but he died within 10 minutes of arrival. The on-duty medical officer, Dr Fazle Rabbi, told independent fact-finders that Rashed had serious injuries.
OC Islam said that Rashed was arrested over allegations of involvement in a robbery and that he had died from a gang beating, not from the police. However, he did not clarify about the circumstances of the said gang assault. Rashed’s mother said that the police did not produce any arrest warrant for her son.
Rashed’s family claimed that the alleged perpetrators and local administration members had been intimidating and coercing them against lodging a complaint.
Since his father had passed away 11 years earlier, Rashed was the only breadwinner of the family. He ran a tea stall during the daytime and worked as a rickshaw driver in the evenings. He lived with his mother and his three sisters. The local Union Council chairman, Abul Kashem, supported claims that Rashed was not a criminal.
Kasim Uddin: Beaten to death for requesting release of brother
VICTIM: Kasim Uddin
Around 12:30am on 22 June 2006 people in Mirerbari village, Kurigram were, like other people all around the globe, settling in to watch a World Cup football match on television. A police team led by SI Abdul Hakim, including ASI Nuruzzaman and constables Mizan, Anwar, Mannan, Nurul Islam, Haidar and Sukumar entered the village to arrest a wanted person. On the way, they saw Tajul Islam (22), Ataur Rahman (25), Mosharraf (20) and Fazlu Mian (21) playing cards where the football was to be televised, so they arrested them also.
When he heard about the arrests, Islam’s 45-year-old brother, Kasim Uddin, went to the police team and requested SI Hakim to let his brother go. The sub inspector allegedly kicked Uddin in the genitals. After he fell to the ground, the other policemen began savagely beating Uddin with their sticks and boots, and he died on the spot.
Outraged villagers surrounded the policemen. They removed the air from the police van’s tires and dug a pit in the road so that they could not escape. SI Hakim fled into a nearby house, which the villagers also surrounded.
News of the events in Mirerbari soon reached ASP Kazi Foyzul Hossain, who went to the village together with OC Golam Moktadir from Rajarhat police station and the local Union Council head, Sadequl Haque Nuru. But by morning the standoff was continuing. ADM Santosh Kumar Adhikari of Kurigram, Rajarhat subdistrict official Md. Mokbul Hossain and the local public prosecutor, who is also president of the district BNP, Idris Ali, also came. They assured the villagers that the killers would be punished. At around 11:30am the police were allowed to leave unharmed.
Subsequently, the villagers were told that SI Hakim had been arrested and suspended from duty; however, the villagers were not aware of what other actions, if any, had been taken, and were doubtful about whether the accused would be punished. They had not been able to get a copy of the post mortem report of Kurigram District Hospital.
Rashida Khatun: Assaulted in senior policeman’s office
VICTIM: Rashida Khatun
On 8 June 2006, 48-year-old Rashida Khatun went to the office of SP Fazlur Rahman to ask about a transfer-related petition lodged by her cousin, another police officer, on his behest. When Khatun went to the senior policeman’s office, PSI Sonia followed her inside, removed her waist belt and suddenly began to beat her with it. Then she began hitting with a stick and fists on Rashida’s head, back, hands, abdomen, face and other body parts. A shopkeeper located nearby heard Khatun’s cries for help and came to intervene.
The officer in charge of Satkhira central police station came and took Khatun to the central hospital in a police van along with her boss, the deputy director of the district Family Planning Centre, and PSI Sonia. Khatun was handcuffed and bleeding from her head. She received outpatient treatment but the police did not allow her to be hospitalised despite her request. They pressured the hospital staff and Resident Medical Officer Dr Md. Ishak Ali to refuse to admit Khatun. After that, PSI Sonia allegedly took away the official medical record, and forced Khatun’s daughter to sign a blank piece of paper. The police kept Khatun handcuffed in the police van. After about an hour, they handed her over to her relatives.
As soon as she was released from police custody, Khatun went back to the hospital to get admitted. However, Dr Ali again refused her. She then went to a private clinic where she was treated for two days, including by an eye specialist and a dentist.
On June 26, Khatun lodged a complaint against PSI Sonia with the Satkhira Magistrate’s Cognisance Court alleging assault and attempted murder. Magistrate Ibrahim Khan ordered a judicial probe headed by Magistrate Abu Jafor. The results were not known and no action was reported taken against PSI Sonia.
Meanwhile, Khatun alleged that the police have threatened her and are now working through the deputy director of the district Family Planning Centre. They allegedly warned that if she does not withdraw her case, then they would file the charge sheet in a previous corruption case against one of her colleagues. So she has been urged by her colleagues to give up the case or face trouble from them also.
Deraj Ali & Abul Kalam Azad: “We have to beat people or they don’t confess”
On 2 June 2006 the owner of the Mausumi Filling Station on the Rajshahi-Naogaon highway informed the Mohonpur police that he was robbed during the previous night. OC Ratan Krishna Nath and SI Belal Hossain then called for Darej Ali from Kharail village and Abul Kalam Azad from Mougachhi village to come to the police station. The two men were detained in connection with reported robbery and produced before a magistrate in the morning, after which they were remanded in police custody for two days.
During remand the police allegedly tortured Ali and Azad by beating with sticks and inflicting electric shocks. As a result Kalam’s left hand was broken and both men sustained other injuries.
In response to inquiries from journalists and local human rights defenders, OC Nath reportedly said that the police have to beat people during interrogation otherwise they do not confess. The police station’s second officer, SI Rakib, reportedly admitted that there had not been any previous allegations of robbery against the two persons. It is believed that the arrest and torture was due to the two men’s political affiliations.
Sajedur Rahman Sajid: ‘Suicide’ from four feet up
VICTIM: Sajedur Rahman Sajid
At around 8pm on 18 May 2006, Sajedur Rahman Sajid, a 26-year-old Dhaka College student living in Munshipara, Gaibandha district, was returning home from his work for a pharmaceutical company by motorbike when someone he knew hailed him on the street opposite the Gaibandha railway station. The man gave him a carton and asked him to keep it for him a short while. Some 20 minutes later he had not come back and Sajid called to ask his whereabouts. The acquaintance said he would be there shortly.
Unknown to Sajid, he was being watched by an intelligence officer, who informed the Gaibandha police to pick him up. A team led by the Police Inspector of Gaibandha district central station, OC Nur Alam, along with SI Abu Yusuf, SI Md. Masud Rana, and Police Constables Dulal Chandra Sarkar and Ansar Ali, and village security force member Md. Malik Uddin picked up Sajid. They opened the carton and found a shotgun inside.
At the police station SI Rana lodged a case on May 18 against Sajid under the Arms Act 1878. SI Yusuf was put in charge of investigation. The police kept Sajid in the cells and the next day brought him before the Magistrate’s Cognisance Court in Gaibandha with a request to hold him for interrogation for seven days. Magistrate Kiran Chandra Roy granted the request.
Around 8:30pm on May 21 Sajid’s family heard that his dead body was at the Gaibandha Central Hospital. When they went to the hospital they met OC Alam and the district unit president of the ruling BNP, Hamidul Haque Sana, a former police inspector. The two men attempted to get Sajid’s mother, Anisa Begum, to sign a blank piece of paper and give an undertaking that her son had committed suicide. But she refused their advances.
OC Alam nonetheless recorded the case as a suicide. He wrote that
During the time of shifting duties of the sentries, at 18:00 hours, Police Constable Mr. Mizanur Rahman (No.205) saw the accused (Sajid) sitting on the floor hanging from his (worn) lungi [male sarong] by a broken netted door in the south corner inside the male cells of the police station, which is half a kilometre (toward the south-west) from the district hospital. Hearing the sentry’s shouts, the Duty Officer, Ms. Fahima Haidar, along with the other staff came to the scene and called to the accused (Sajid) who did not respond. In a ‘near death’ condition he (Sajid) was taken to Sadar Hospital.
Sajid’s father, Abdur Rauf Sarkar, a fabric trader, together with the Nagorik (Citizen) Committee leaders allege that the police tortured Sajid to death on the instructions of Delwar Hossain Delu, an executive committee member of the Gaibandha district unit of the BNP, whose daughter Sajid had been seeing.
A human rights defender visited the place of death and found that the height of the bar from which Sajid had purportedly killed himself is slightly less than four feet; around two-thirds Sajid’s height. The location also is visible to anyone passing the cell.
Magistrate Kiran Chandra Roy prepared an Inquest Report, noting apparent injuries, and sent the body to Gaibandha Central Hospital for a post mortem. On May 24 it revealed that Sajid had been murdered: he died from “asphyxia as a result of strangulation, which was anti-mortem and homicide in nature”.
On May 24, Sajid’s father went with supporters to the office of SP Bhanulal Das. SP Das asked OC Alam to receive the complaint in his office. The OC then opened a murder case against unidentified officers from his own station. On the same day, he identified SI Yusuf as the perpetrator. The OC recorded that “considering the post-mortem report, SI Abu Yusuf might have tortured Sajid in the Sub Inspectors’ room in the police station, that resulted several injuries in Sajid’s throat, hands and legs; that’s why the (accused) person died in custody”. He then contradicted himself and went back to his original story by adding that
After pushing Sajid to bathe in a pond in the thana [police station] campus in front of his elder brother Abdul Mazed, SI Abu Yusuf tortured Sajid physically in the afternoon. At around 18:00 hours, the new sentry, Police Constable Mr. Mizanur Rahman (No. 205) found Sajid hung by his own lungi tied with a rod of the window of the toilet in custody having committed suicide. I prepared the Inquest Report of the dead body; according to the rules, First Class Magistrate Mr. Kiran Chandra Roy has done the inquest report.
Notwithstanding, SI Yusuf was arrested on May 28 and held in custody.
On June 11, Sajid’s elder brother, Abdul Mazed Sarkar, and Nagorik Committee convener Aminul Islam Golap lodged two separate complaints against 12 policemen with the court in Gaibandha. Magistrate Ashraful Islam instructed the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the two cases. However, no progress has since been reported.
The people of Gaibandha protested against the death of Sajid and have demanded punishment for all the alleged perpetrators, not just SI Yusuf. Facing non-stop public protests, including day-long strikes in the district, SP Das suspended PSI Haidar as well as two constables, and transferred the other accused police to new districts. These steps did not satisfy the local people. They are also skeptical that the CID can conduct an impartial investigation.
At around 8:30am on July 9, about six armed persons led by BNP leader Sana went to Sajid’s family residence. Sana allegedly called his father and brother and threatened them that, “You are shouting too much about Sajid’s death.” Pointing to the gun of one of the armed men, he told Mazed that, “It would be a matter of only one [bullet] to stop you; do not go crazy for a trial!” Then he threatened Rauf that, “You are running behind the leaders of the Nagorik Committee. Do they have any power to save your life, if you are in danger? If you want to survive with your family and property in this town, be careful or you’re done for!” They left with Sana saying that he and his people would monitor the family’s movements.
Since the threats, Sajid’s family is living in fear of attacks from both the BNP members and the police. The Nagorik Committee leaders have stopped their protests due to similar threats.
Tera Mian: Don’t bother to complain unless he’s dead
VICTIM: Tera Mian
At around 8pm on 6 May 2006, 25-year-old Tera Mian was called by four of his neighbours to join a meeting on electricity supply problems in the village. Later in the evening they went to a restaurant at the Gobindaganj Bazaar, but after that Tera did not return home. His family looked for him in different places, but could not locate him anywhere. Villagers from his home area detained and handed two persons suspected of involvement in the disappearance to the police.
Mian’s maternal uncle and former member of local Union Council, Abdul Karim, made a complaint against three persons with the Chhatak police station the following day. However, the police allegedly failed to record the complaint. OC Iqbal Hossain instead suggested that Abdul Karim search for his nephew in hospitals and other police stations. The police said that they would only record the complaint if he turned up dead.
On May 8, Mian’s dead body was found in a flooded natural basin. After that the police lodged a complaint against nine persons. However, his family has alleged that the police have tried to implicate Karim in his death, and have used a local newspaper to voice opinions in favour of the accused.
The family of the deceased alleged that if the Chhatak police had not ignored the first complaint from Abdul Karim, then Mian could have been saved.
Anjuman Ara Parvin & family: Assaulted for challenging arrest
On 3 May 2006, SI Abdus Samad of the Paikgachha police station ordered two constables, Asad and Ashraf, to arrest Elahi Box Sardar in Sarol village. As he was not at home the police allegedly arrested his 45-year-old older brother Mostofa instead. Mostofa’s wife, 40-year-old Anwara Begum, and Elahi’s 34-year-old wife and son, Anjuman Ara Parvin and Khairul, all objected to the police action and demanded to know the reason for arrest. The two constables allegedly kicked Anjuman in her groin, which was swollen due to pregnancy. The police assaulted the other three family members with boots, sticks and fists, and verbally abused them.
Mostofa was beaten in public on the way to Paikgachha police station and again once there. At around midnight another brother, who is a government officer, came with local influential persons and persuaded the police to release Mostofa.
The Paikgachha Subdistrict Health Complex treated the assault victims. Dr Zahidul Islam told a local fact-finding team that all four persons had swelling over their bodies. Anjuman was transferred to the Khulna Medical College Hospital for specialised treatment due to bleeding from her genitalia. Anwara also went to the medical college hospital, while Khairul was treated as an outpatient. Mostofa was admitted to hospital for three days and sought specialist treatment for head injuries caused by the repeated assaults. No action is known to have been taken against the alleged perpetrators.
Shah Shamsul Haque Tengku & others: A bloody day at the cricket
VICTIMS: Shah Shamsul Haque Tengku & around 19 others
Photojournalists Farzana Godhuli and Shah Shamsul Haque Tengku arrived at the Chittagong stadium at around 9am on 16 April 2006 in order to cover a cricket match between Bangladesh and Australia. Chittagong Metropolitan Police traffic sergeant Anwar Sattar stopped their motorised rickshaw at the gate as it did not have a parking permit. The journalists then showed their accreditation cards and a VIP car-parking pass and asked to proceed. The police sergeant became aggressive and abused the journalists. When they responded to him, he allegedly pulled Tengku out of the vehicle and began punching and kicking him, while threatening to kill him. Some other police joined the melee. Meanwhile, other journalists who saw the attack rushed to take photos and to intervene. The sergeant became annoyed with them and tried to take their cameras.
The journalists decided not to cover the cricket match but instead protest against the police assault. When the match organisers and administrators sought to reconcile the journalists and police, the journalists held a sit-down strike on the boundary of the playing field. Chittagong Metropolitan Police (Port Zone) DC Ali Akbar Khan then led a group of around 25 policemen to beat the journalists with rifle butts, batons, boots and fists. They also stole and broke as many cameras as they could. At least 16 journalists were injured, including Anurup Roy Titu, who had to undergo an operation at the Royal Hospital in Chittagong for head injuries. A 65-year-old photojournalist, Zahurul Haque, was also severely beaten with batons and rifle butts while lying on the ground.
Although the assault was broadcast live on national and international television, incredibly the Chittagong Metropolitan Police headquarters on the same day denied any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Police Sergeant Sattar was temporarily suspended the next day, and DC Akbar was removed from his duties, but not suspended.
Journalist groups were not satisfied and demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident and permanent suspension of all police involved in the attacks. On April 19, the High Court Division of the Supreme Court asked the government to explain about the attack, and why it had not taken disciplinary action against the police involved. It also directed that the journalists be compensated. In response, the government set up a judicial probe and a committee to suggest treatment and compensation for the journalists. A senior police officer was also assigned to make internal inquiries.
Police assault journalists in the middle of the Chittagong cricket stadium during an international match (Anurup Roy Titu on the ground at centre) – Photo: DEBU PRASAD
On April 24 District and Session Judge Shawkat Hossain was assigned to undertake the judicial probe. The probe started on May 7 and was to be completed on May 17. But after more than a month its work was not done. Furthermore, some journalists had alleged that the probe recorded statements from a number of fake eyewitnesses put forward by the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, a seven-member committee headed by the Joint Secretary of the Information Ministry, Mir Mosharraf Hossain, recommended paying 1,436,397 Taka (USD 21,000) to twenty journalists who were injured and had cameras broken in the assault. The authorities agreed to pay and arranged for further medical treatment for Anurup Roy Titu in Thailand, and Shamsul Haque Tengku in Dhaka.
The police departmental inquiry conducted by DIG Aminul Islam implicated DC Akbar, AC Enamul Kabir and Police Sergeant Hossain. The police chief then said that he would wait for the judicial probe’s report before taking action.
On July 12 the home affairs minister announced that he had asked the police chief to begin departmental proceedings against the three alleged perpetrators based on the findings of the judicial probe and police reports.
Despite the high profile of the case and findings of guilt by various inquiries, the authorities have not started criminal proceedings against the accused police. Concerned persons say that the compensation payments and other efforts by the state appear to have been aimed at diminishing public hostility and mollifying the journalists in order to avoid criminal prosecutions.
DC Akbar assaults 65-year-old journalist Zahurul Haque in the Chittagong stadium – Photo: DEBU PRASAD
Traffic constable rapes lost child
VICTIM: Name withheld
A 12 year-old-girl went from Mymensingh to Dhaka along with her maternal uncle in January 2006, to work at the house of Tajul Islam, a businessman in Islampur. As Islam’s family members allegedly beat her often, the girl fled on April 7. After losing her direction she began crying beside the road in the Jatrabari area of Dhaka. Traffic Police Constable Md. Azadul Islam asked why she was crying, and when she told him he offered to take her to stay at his rented house in East Bashabo.
On April 15, Islam’s neighbours learned that the girl had stopped eating her food and was again often crying. They came to Islam’s house and learned from her that the policeman had raped her several times during her stay. She had complained to his wife, who also threatened her not to tell anybody or she would be punished. The neighbours then informed the local women’s council leaders, whose area committee rescued the girl and took her to the Shabuzbagh police station, where they lodged a case on April 19. The girl was treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and taken to a safe house.
Islam was suspended from service and on July 22 a case was submitted to court in his absence: the accused fled before the police took action to arrest him.
Shahin Sultana Santa & husband: “Let’s see what you can get from that court”
At around midday on 12 March 2006 opposition political parties rallied and marched on the Election Commission headquarters at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka. The police set up roadblocks on Mirpur road, between Manik Mian Avenue and Road 27 of Dhanmondi Residential Area. Around 12:30pm, a group of demonstrators was passing by the front of the Dhanmondi Boys’ High School in the nearby Jatiya Sangsad area when the police fired tear gas and water cannons. They then began to beat people with sticks, canes and iron rods. The assault was widely reported in the domestic media.
Thirty-four-year-old Shahin Sultana Santa was waiting to collect her son from the school when the police assault began. She took shelter in the Pansia Clinic opposite. However, she was soon forcibly removed from the clinic and placed with the demonstrators, who were still being assaulted. Santa says that she told the police that she was pregnant and diabetic, but DC Kohinoor Mian ridiculed her that, “When the police come to make arrests, you pretend to be a patient and pregnant!” Then DC Mazaharul Haque and he allegedly told their subordinates to “break her hands and legs”. Some male police put their hands on Santa’s groin to check whether or not she was pregnant, then allegedly tied a rope around her abdomen and pulled violently on the ends of it. They then forced her into a prison van where they stepped on her body and kicked her genitalia and groin. After Santa had fainted she was dumped on the street, apparently after having had her thumb prints taken on blank papers.
Santa received severe injuries to her thighs, groin, back, waist, hip and other areas of her body. She suffered two fractures, one in her right elbow and the other in the small finger of her right hand. She also alleges that the police stole a mobile phone, two gold bracelets, a gold chain and 1500 Taka (USD 21).
Santa was admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where doctors told her that she should seek specialist treatment or risk long-term injury. On March 26, she went for a further medical check up and was advised that she would have to abort the child due to internal injuries.
The Mohammadpur police station duty officers repeatedly refused to record a case against the alleged perpetrators on March 12, 13, 17 and 18. When Santa went with her husband and two legal assistants to meet OC Shahanur Khan and then his deputy, SI Gias Uddin Ahmed, they too refused to record it.
Her husband Atiur Rahman, who is an attorney, meanwhile filed a case directly in the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Dhaka on March 14, naming DC Haque, DC Mian, Constable Ruhul Amin and about 25 other personnel as the accused. Magistrate Baki Billah referred the complaint to the chief of police and gave until April 16 for the police to submit a report.
The police assault Santa
At about 3pm the next day Santa’s residential phone was disconnected for no reason. She believes that it was a deliberate attempt to impede her complaints.
On March 19 she opened another case under the Women and Child Repression Prevention (Special Provision) (Amended) Act 2003. The special tribunal for that case then ordered a magistrate to head a judicial inquiry.
On March 22 two cases were lodged against Santa and her husband in an attempt to harass them into withdrawing their own complaints. The plaintiffs, two private citizens, claimed that the couple had taken money and goods from them illegally. A third case was subsequently lodged. However, the addresses given by the complainants were found to be false.
After that the police began making frequent visits to the couple’s house. The couple went into hiding but they continued to receive threatening phone calls, and were forced to withdraw their son from school. Persons known to Rahman called to inform him that his wife was in serious danger. The police tried to make Santa out as a criminal opposition party activist; however, opposition party leaders stated that she was not involved with their party.
Witnesses to the assault also began receiving threats and being visited by the police. Nonetheless, on March 23 one of the witnesses went to give evidence for the case under the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court; shortly after he was briefly detained.
The Supreme Court Bar Association decided to extend legal support to Santa for her cases against the police and through its assistance the High Court Division on March 28 directed the law enforcing agencies, including the police chief and alleged perpetrators, not to harass Santa in any way, including by organising persons to make fraudulent complaints against the family. It also ordered them not to enter the family’s house. And it ordered the police to explain how the assault could have occurred and why there should not be legal action against the accused. However, after more than a month the police authorities had given no reply to the court.
Despite the ruling, the threats against the family and witnesses continued and even worsened. At around 10:40am on March 29 Rahman returned to the family’s apartment briefly; shortly after, police came to search the area for him. Meanwhile, at about 11am on the same day OC Nabo Jyoti Khisha of the Chatkhil police station in Noakhali allegedly phoned a witness for Santa to say that he would implicate him in ten cases for having testified before the judicial inquiry on March 28. On April 7, the doctor from the Dhaka Medical College Hospital who issued Santa with the medical certificate indicating her injuries went to request it back as he too had been constantly threatened. Other witnesses were forced to leave their homes, and the police allegedly began to search the residences of their relatives and threaten them with fabricated cases also.
On March 30 the judicial probe finished its inquiry and submitted its report to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, but shortly thereafter Santa submitted a complaint against the inquiry, saying that it had not included important facts of the case in the final report, and also had recorded false information, such as comments attributed to witnesses that they had never made. For instance, Santa said that Keru had told the judicial probe commission that he had seen DC Mian directing his colleagues to beat a lady, but that this information was omitted from the report.
After the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court ordered the police to conduct an internal investigation, Additional SSP Kawsar Ahmed Haidari from the CID asked Santa to help him record statements of those witnesses who had fled to escape police harassment. She arranged to have the witnesses meet him at her residence on April 10. But instead of recording the statements of the two witnesses who came that day, the officer accused them of being members of a banned militant political party. The two went back into hiding.
On May 2 a second judicial inquiry examined whether or not Santa had been refused the opportunity to lodge complaints with the police about her alleged torture. But despite having listened to the statements made by Santa and her witnesses, Magistrate Shafik Anwar failed to note the names of the responsible officers and ignored repeated requests to include them. The magistrate also took testimonies from six witnesses whom Santa claims were planted by the police to give false statements supporting their version of events.
Meanwhile, the constant threats against Santa and her family continued unabated. An unknown male phone caller said that he would implicate her in suicide bombing cases. Another rebuked her cases against police officers as ineffective: DC Haque had by this time been promoted to Additional DIG.
On May 5, Rahman was going back home from his law chambers in the Shegun Bagicha area when he was attacked by a group of eight persons at the Dhaka University. The attackers allegedly asked his name repeatedly and stole his mobile phone and 8000 Taka (USD 110).
On May 11, police “recovered” a revolver, two pipe-guns and eight bullets in vacant land owned by Rahman and Santa at Shibpur village in Barisal district. Unknown to Santa and her husband, the Uzirpur police station filed a case against them. Rahman was later forced to bribe local political leaders to have the case dropped.
On May 21, Magistrate Kaniz Akhter Nasirina Khanam of the Fourth Special Tribunal for Women and Children Repression of Dhaka dismissed the charges filed by Santa. She said that the judicial inquiry had not proved that the alleged perpetrators had attempted to molest and sexually harass her deliberately, as required by the law. Incredibly, in reaching her conclusion the magistrate did not refer to the fact that the police brutality against Santa had been established as fact by the inquiry: it was just the question of the intent of the police–not the torture itself–that remained unproven. In fact, the inquiry had stated that the police had violated the Penal Code. However, the magistrate threw out the entire case because the actions of the police could not be proven to be deliberate. Santa says that while she was waiting for the verdict at court, around midday she received a call on her mobile in which the speaker told her to leave the court and rebuked her for bothering to wait for the verdict.
On May 23 Rahman was again threatened by phone and the following day he was again attacked as he was leaving his chambers. As previously, the attackers repeatedly asked him for his name and stole his mobile phone. They also held a pistol to his chest and threatened to shoot him. Around 9am that same morning his legal assistant was accosted by three persons as he went to collect documents at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court. The three demanded to know where they could find his boss and prevented him from collecting the documents that day.
Santa and Rahman have refused to give up, and on July 26 they lodged a second writ in the High Court Division challenging the findings of the judicial inquiries and outcome of the case in the special tribunal. The case in the metropolitan court had continued without result, with the accused using time and money-wasting tactics. After lodging the writ the couple again received a phone call challenging them that, “Let’s see what you can get from that court; I’ve already lodged my report.” They have also said that as they have refused to succumb to threats, attempts have been made to broker a settlement in exchange for money.
Md. Masudur Rahman: “Crossfire” got him
VICTIM: Md. Masudur Rahman
On 8 March 2006, 37-year-old Md. Masudur Rahman (alias Iman Ali), a local opposition politician and businessman in Dhaka, went to attend a trial at the Session Judge’s Court in the city. His political opponents had lodged 12 cases against him, but he had been freed from 11 and only this final trial, on a conspiracy charge, was pending. As he was leaving the court on bail, he was arrested by Rapid Action Battalion personnel and taken away. The following morning his dead body was found in a field in Khagain village, roughly one kilometre from his home. The police recovered the body for autopsy and handed it over to Rahman’s family at around 4pm on the same day.
Rahman’s family has accused the RAB of blatantly murdering him. His brother, Nazrul Islam, has said that he was shot three times in the chest. He has also said that the body showed signs of torture: the right hand bore burn marks, there was swelling around the right ear, a bruise on the right side of the face and a hole in the toe of the right foot. Islam says that security guards who had been on duty outside the Panna Textile Mills had witnessed the RAB personnel shoot five rounds into the air after shooting his brother, presumably to create the impression of “crossfire”. He also alleges that the RAB personnel stole a gold chain, two gold rings, a mobile phone and money from his brother at the time of arrest. He has further alleged in a petition to the session judge’s court that his brother was killed on orders from the home affairs ministry because he was supporting some villagers against land-grabbing by a cousin of the minister, and that OC Haidar Ali of Savar police station in Dhaka told him as much. No probe commission or otherwise is known to have investigated the allegations.
The RAB headquarters issued a standard press release claiming that Rahman was a wanted criminal who during a long interrogation by RAB-4 personnel had admitted to keeping illegal arms in his possession. The unit had taken him to Akrain village to recover the arms when his associates ambushed and opened fire, and he was killed in the exchange.
Abul Bashar & family: All it takes is money
Abul Bashar, a former resident of Sunamganj district came back to Bangladesh from the UK on 4 January 2006 due to a land dispute with his cousins. He stayed together with his wife and children and they planned to leave again on February 6. However, two days earlier a gang of seven people came to where he was staying at around 7:30pm and attacked him, his wife and his brother-in-law with sharp knives, causing serious injuries.
Bashar and his wife received first aid at a local clinic and were admitted to the Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital. Police came to the crime scene and seized two long knives that the attackers had left behind.
On February 5, the brother-in-law, Abul Kalam, lodged a case against the alleged perpetrators with the Bishwanath police station, but the investigating officer, SI Thengu Saha, surprisingly submitted a report to a magistrate closing the case without charges being laid. On April 5, Kalam went to SI Saha with local human rights defenders to ask why he had failed to press charges, despite having ample evidence. In front of the group, the policeman threatened to implicate Kalam in a fabricated arms case if he did not stop pressing the matter.
Kalam told the fact-finding rights defenders that the alleged perpetrators paid the police to close the case. The group went to visit the alleged perpetrators and obtained confirmation that they had paid the police through a relative. The accused persons also offered money to the fact-finders.
Nationwide arrests spread fear
In January 2006 opposition political parties declared a series of marches for February that would culminate in a grand rally in Dhaka on February 5. In response, police began arresting people en masse to create fear among opposition political party supporters and the general public. Some persons were arrested under specific charges, but most were picked up under generic provisions, namely section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and section 86 of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance, which allow arrests on suspicion of wrongdoing.
Photo courtesy of BIHR
On February 2, 25-year-old painter Rafik Khan, for instance, was sleeping at home in Kadamtali village, Dhaka when police from Ikuria station broke the door and arrested him. His mother Shefali Begum requested the police not to arrest her son; however, the police threatened to take her too. Begum did not understand the reason for the arrest and the police had not sent Khan to court by February 5, in violation of the law, which requires that he be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours.
Kamrangirchar police also arrested Md. Mazibor Rahman, an opposition activist, from his Maydhya Rasulpur village residence on February 2. No charges were laid against him but a court twice rejected a bail petition submitted by his lawyers.
Garment worker Md. Khairul Islam was going to his factory at Arambag in the Motijheel commercial area on the evening of February 3 for night shift when local police arrested him at the Kamlapur Bridge and took him to the police station. The police then implicated Islam in a theft case and produced him before court. The following morning his 85-year-old blind father, Ratan Mian, went to arrange bail for his son at court, after which he went to the gate of the Dhaka Central Jail to receive him. However, the jail authorities did not release him for two more days, and then demanded money for his release.
Also on February 3, at around 9pm, day labourer Md. Jalal Uddin was returning home after going to pay tuition fees for his son at a private coaching centre when police stopped him at the Mogbazar crossing. They took him to the Ramna station without offering an explanation. He was held there for two nights without being brought before a magistrate. When his wife went to the police station with her son the police did not allow her to meet him. She waited outside the building until 3am, at which time she gave some money to a man who said he was a lawyer and could help her; but he disappeared and her husband was not released.
On February 5 the Supreme Court ordered that the wanton arrests without warrant be brought to a stop. A High Court Division bench issued an injunction restraining the government and directing it to submit a report within two weeks detailing the names and particulars of all persons arrested under section 54 and 86 provisions, with an explanation of its actions. It asked why the government should not pay these persons compensation. It also asked the authorities to show that section 86 does not violate the constitution.
The court order brought an end to the round of arrests; however, since this date the police have continued to use these laws to detain persons at will.
Nawabganj villagers: Electricity bills paid with blood
Around 5pm on 4 January 2006 an estimated 10,000 people demonstrated over the poor supply and high cost of electricity supply in Nawabganj (a.k.a. Chapainawabganj) district. The demonstrators came to protest outside the Rural Electrification Centre at Kanshat, but the police blocked their procession on the Nawabganj-Sona Masjid highway near the office. The demonstrators became annoyed that they could not protest outside the electricity supplier’s premises, and some threw pieces of brick at the police. Shibganj police station OC Sahabudding Khalifa and some other police officers were injured. The police opened fire on the demonstrators and some were shot; causing the crowd to flee. The police and staff of the electricity office dragged several of the wounded inside the compound, where instead of giving them first aid they allegedly assaulted them with bamboo sticks and feet. Among them were 24-year-old Nayan Karmokar and 35-year-old Abul Kashem Kajol, who died from their injuries.
When the people who had fled to a distance saw their fellows being assaulted by police and electricity supply staff they became outraged. They threw things at units of armed police, military and RAB personnel that had been sent to quell the violence, and demanded medical treatment for the wounded. A rescue team finally came and took the victims to the Shibganj Health Complex. Thirty five injured persons were sent to the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
The Assistant General Manager of the electricity supplier, S M Nasir Uddin, lodged a case with the Shibganj police against more than 100 people. The Shibganj police also filed their own case against the same people. Neither case referred to the shooting and brutality of the police or other authorities. ADM Abdur Rahim of Nawabganj established a probe to investigate the incident and submit a report as early as possible.
No case was immediately filed regarding the two dead persons. Their families alleged that they were forced to conduct funerals in the presence of police on the same night that the post mortems were completed, and could not see the bodies beforehand.
Late in the night on January 22, the Shibganj police arrested three persons accused of leading the demonstration: Golam Rabbani, Zahir Chowdhury and Monirul Islam Manna. According to Rabbani’s wife, the police blindfolded the three, and handcuffed and tied their hands behind their backs. They were then taken to the Shibganj police station and allegedly beaten by the police, who accused them of mobilising people against the government authorities. They were then allegedly taken to the superintendent’s office where they were forced to kneel with their heads underneath a table, after which they were beaten over all parts of their bodies with sticks. Lawyers who later visited the three in Nawabganj jail said that they were unable to walk properly due to obvious injuries to their legs, and that they had been admitted to the jail medical ward. However, the families alleged that they had not been given proper treatment there. They have also alleged that local Member of Parliament Shahjahan Mian used his influence to have the men denied bail.
When on January 23 villagers learned of the arrests they blocked the local roads to demand their release. Police led by Nawabganj SP Rezaul Karim and First Class Magistrate Sarwar Murshed failed in attempts to remove the blockades. The police then allegedly began entering nearby houses and randomly beating the occupants.
When the people on the streets heard that the police were assaulting people in their houses, including women, the elderly and children, they again became outraged, and started setting fire to electricity poles. At around 3pm a large number of people encircled a group of police on the street and again the police opened fire and killed six on the spot. Two others, including a juvenile, died at the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on January 24. More than one hundred were wounded, and 14 seriously injured were also hospitalised.
Many of the victims of the police violence were not part of the demonstration. Sahela Khatun was hit by bullets in her legs, hands and abdomen while watching from in front of her house. More than fifty others were reported wounded from the indiscriminate assaults inside houses. Thirty-five-year-old Jahanara Begum had her left hand broken while she was feeding her child at home. Afzal and Riaz Uddin lost their teeth after being hit by police rifle butts. In total, people across some 41 villages adjacent to the Kanshat Bazaar alleged that police entered and searched houses, beating people mercilessly as they went. They also alleged that attacks occurred inside mosques while people prayed and that in some houses women had been sexually assaulted and molested. Most victims were afraid that if they tried to go for medical treatment then they may meet police on the way and be attacked again, so they stayed at home despite injuries. (A partial list of victims from this and the earlier violence is contained in Appendix III).
SP Karim claimed that as they had been surrounded the police had no alternative but to fire at the demonstrators, but did not offer any explanations as to why his men were allegedly entering houses and assaulting people at random up to five kilometres away from the protest site. OC Khalifa announced that new cases would be filed against villagers. The district administration deployed more armed police, military and paramilitary units to stop the conflict.
A three-member committee was created by the government on January 24 to investigate the incidents, headed by the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mohammad Mohsin, together with DC Musleh Uddin from Rajshahi district and Additional DIG Rajshahi Renge, and given a week to report its findings. However, the probe only began its investigation some two weeks later, and by the middle of the year there was still no news of its outcome, if any.
The government authorities ordered the transfer of persons involved in the violence, including DC Nurul Islam and SP Karim, as well as local executive officer Rafiqul Islam, and withdrew the two cases lodged against large numbers of villagers. The district administration was temporarily entrusted to the neighbouring Rajshahi district authorities. However, no charges were lodged against any of the police or government officials responsible for the bloodshed.
In total, 20 people died and over 150 were injured in the violence between the police and local population in Nawabganj, all of them civilians.
Families of the first two deceased received 150,000 Taka (USD 2160) each, and eight injured victims 20,000 Taka (around USD 290) as compensation.
The rural electrification authority finally reduced its minimum subscription rate to a little over half the original price.
On 20 April 2006 opposition parties took to the streets of Dhaka and other cities to protest the Nawabganj violence and the lack of effective action against the killer police. Metropolitan police units allegedly assaulted the demonstrators. Nazma Hossain Ratna, an opposition political activist, claimed that she was assaulted on her legs, back and waist. She and others who had been assaulted were initially detained in a police van but later released. A colleague, Shumi Aktar, alleged that she was also beaten while taking part in a separate procession at Rashel Square in Dhanmondi. Mohoshin Hossain alleged that he was beaten by police in Mirpur Road while taking part in a rally there, and that the officers continued to assault him with sticks after he fell to the ground. Rafiqul Islam Raza, a minor opposition party leader, said that he was assaulted outside his office. The police denied all the allegations.
Photo courtesy of BIHR
Meherpur villagers: “Beating & mass arrest are an integral part of police raids”
VICTIMS: 35 persons arrested; 67 assaulted & implicated: see Appendix III INCIDENTS: Assault; arbitrary arrest & detention
In the early morning of 21 January 2006, a group of Gangni police led by OC Abdul Malek entered Bhorat village in order to arrest two wanted persons. They were armed and in plain clothes. Some villagers saw them and thinking that they were robbers, accosted them and threw bricks. The police fled with some minor injuries.
Later in the day, the police returned with ten RAB personnel and raided the village. They allegedly assaulted residents, including women, children and the elderly, and ransacked about twenty houses. As panic spread, people started moving to and fro in fear of arrest and further brutality by the police. Around 100 villagers were injured in the melee, and 35 men were arrested and locked up in Meherpur jail on court orders. The police also lodged a case against approximately 100 unknown villagers with the Gangni police station. In the end, 67 were implicated. All managed to obtain bail within the following two weeks.
Among the villagers, 36-year-old Md. Rafikul had both hands fractured, while 45-year-old Md. Rezaul’s right hand was broken. Both were sent for treatment at the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma victims. Out of the 37 villagers who sustained serious injuries, some had received limited medical attention while around 20 were deprived of treatment altogether.
Photo courtesy of BIHR
SP A K M Awlad Hossain defended the police actions before journalists by saying that, “Beating and mass arrest are an integral part of police raids. We have sticks, arms and ammunitions for proper utilisation, not to look at them and keep silent. Let these raids go on.”
Basudev Roy: We’re only in it for the money
VICTIM: Basudev Roy
On 21 January 2006, SI Mostak Ahmed led a team of Dinajpur district detective branch police which raided the Enam Homeoy Hall homeopathy medicine shop. The police seized corking machines, labels and bottles for wine from the house of the owner, Md. Aminul Islam, and arrested him and his employee Md. Masud Rana. SI Ahmed then prepared a list of seized goods which he recorded as seized from the shop of another homeopathic doctor, Basudev Roy. He then lodged a case against Roy for violating the Narcotics Control Act, and on January 22 district police arrested Roy.
Roy complained that SI Ahmed had previously made a number of attempts to implicate him in false cases and had compelled him to pay 100,000 Taka (USD 1430) or risk jail. Roy’s wife, Krishna, alleged that SI Ahmed had this time demanded 40,000 Taka (USD 570) to drop the case against him, and had taken 10,000 Taka from one of the staff in their shop, Bipin Chandra, who had lodged a complaint about this.
SP Delwar Hossain Mian of Dinajpur district assigned ASP Rezaul Karim Ranga and OC Hamidur Rashid of the district central police station to inquire into the allegation against SI Ahmed. After the inquiry found that the allegation appeared to be true, SI Ahmed was temporarily suspended from duty on January 25; however, he was not known to have been otherwise punished for setting up the case against Roy.
For his part, Roy was released from detention but not from the charges against him, despite it being proven that they originated from false evidence. He reportedly did not regain the money stolen by the perpetrator.
Zahirul Islam Litu: Knife gang attacks; police relax
VICTIM: Zahirul Islam Litu
Around the start of 2006, Akteruzzaman Rikto and other members of the ruling BNP party in Bagerhat came to the fishery project in front of Baitpur Badamtola School where Zahirul Islam Litu, a 35-year-old opposition party activist was working. They pushed Litu–who is blind–into a pond, but he swam out. Afterwards, Litu’s brother lodged a complaint about the incident.
On January 4, Rikto and eight others returned to the fishery and demanded that he pay 10,000 Taka (USD 14) to enter his own workplace. When Litu refused they said that they would kill him: then they attacked, punching his face and hacking at his hands and legs with sharp weapons, causing heavy loss of blood. They left apparently thinking him to be dead.
Witnesses claim that police were stationed on duty nearby but that they idly waited until the perpetrators had left the scene, not coming to Litu’s aid or making any attempt to stop the attackers.
Some witnesses then brought Litu’s body to the Bagerhat District Hospital where doctors referred him to the orthopaedic hospital in Khulna. Physicians there said that he will not be able to walk again as the veins in one leg had been completely severed. Three of his fingers also had been cut off. He will require long-term treatment and be unable to continue in his profession.
On January 11, Litu’s younger brother Oaliur Rahman Lipu filed a case with the Bagerhat district police, but by March the police had still not arrested anyone. The alleged perpetrators set about intimidating the victim and his family to withdraw the charges.
SI Abdul Malek, the investigating officer, said that one of the accused, Mizan Fakir, had lodged a counter-case against Litu, claiming that he was part of a plot to kill Fakir’s father.
Ratan, Azam & Mizanur: “Mobile court” spells “death”
At about 1pm on 28 December 2005 a “mobile court” led by First Class Magistrate Abdul Aziz Mian went to Bhurukapara village under Daulatpur police station in Kustia to seize “illegal” sugarcane crushing machines. The farmers and the villagers resisted, complaining that they are forced to use homemade crushers due to the mismanagement and corruption of government sugar mill officials. They had refused to sell their sugarcane to the mill authority, despite being ordered to do so by the government, simply in order that a government-owned corporation could survive.
Magistrate Mian, SI Nurul Islam and seven constables were injured when villagers and farmers threw stones and pieces of brick at them. The magistrate then ordered the police to open fire, killing 15-year-old schoolboy Ratan, the son of Bhogol Mondol from Bhurakapara village; 32-year-old Azam, a farmer also from Bhurakapara village, and 25-year-old Mizanur Rahman, another farmer, from Gaserdiar village. Some 16 others were injured, including Jesmin Akter (11), Mizan Boyati (25), Gias (18), Kabil (35), Kashem (38), Amirul (22) and Abdul Kuddus (22), who were hospitalised.
Two persons filed complaints against the villagers. The manager of sugarcane collection of the Kustia Sugar Mills, Habibur Rahman, lodged a case with the Daulatpur police station against 300 people from Bhurukapara and Gaserdiar villages, identifying 13 specific persons. A local official, Babar Ali, also lodged a case against 200 villagers with the same police station. In both cases villagers were accused of killing people and obstructing government staff from performing their official duties.
As a result of the two complaints, men began leaving the villages to escape arbitrary arrest, and women and children remaining behind were allegedly repeatedly harassed to reveal their whereabouts. Three platoons of police were reportedly deployed to patrol the two villages. ADM Sheikh Mizanur Rahman was assigned to investigate the incident but nothing is known to have been heard of his inquiries later.
The wounded victims struggled to obtain medical treatment due to financial hardship. The deputy commissioner of Kustia asked the sugar mill authority to arrange treatment for only 11-year-old schoolgirl Jesmin Akter, who suffered serious bullet wounds. The rest of the victims did not receive adequate medical treatment.
Imon Chowdhury: Love hurts more when the police get involved
VICTIM: Imon Chowdhury
On 28 December 2005, 23-year-old Imon Chowdhury went to his in-laws’ house in Barisal to collect his pregnant wife and return home to Gaibandha together. However, a dispute between the husband and his father-in-law Abdur Rizzak allegedly caused the family to beat Chowdhury when he arrived. Rizzak then handed the young man to ASP Mizanur Rahman, with whom he has a connection. The officer and his subordinates then allegedly took Chowdhury into the office of the Barisal district central police station and assaulted him with sticks, while threatening to put a sharp steel weapon into his body.
The police brought Chowdhury to the magistrate under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and had him detained at Barisal jail.
However, the police have given two contradictory stories to persons asking about this case. According to one, Chowdhury was beaten by local boys on the street who handed him over to the police. According to the other, he was demanding dowry from his wife and threatening her, so she fled, and when he came to the in-laws’ home they handed him to the police. The latter story is particularly unbelievable because if it was true then the police would have brought the man before court under the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Special Provision) (Amended) Act 2003, not generic section 54.
Rapist local politicians walk free
VICTIM: Name withheld
Around 9pm on 30 October 2005, a 30-year-old woman went with her husband to the Rajapur Bazaar commercial telephone booth, to call her son who is in India. On their way home to Hogolpota village, Ataur Rahman and three other members of the Dhansahor Union Council, together with two more men, stopped the couple near Shailabunia village. They allegedly tied the husband to a tree and beat him, and forced his wife into a roadside field where they raped her. They threatened the two not to complain, and left.
The next day, the couple lodged a complaint at the Sharankhola police station. The police took the woman to Bagerhat District Hospital for an examination, and arrested one of the two ordinary civilian accused.
The perpetrators allegedly further intimidated the victim that she would be harmed again if she did not withdraw the case, and also threatened witnesses. They have used their political influence with the police to avoid arrest and as of April 2006 Ataur Rahman had successfully had his name removed from the charge sheet.
Shafi Uddin Shafi: Hockey turns deadly in police premises
VICTIM: Shafi Uddin Shafi
On 30 November 2005, Mohammadpur police station personnel in Dhaka city arrested 35-year-old Shafi Uddin Shafi (a.k.a. Shafiul Islam Shafi) on suspicion of involvement in a theft which took place at a jeweler’s shop in the New Super Market, Sobhanbag area, where Shafi had been working as a security guard. Shafi had reportedly not been paid regularly and he had approached the management over this; he was arrested shortly after, perhaps as a result of his complaint.
On December 1 Shafi was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court and was taken into remand for three days. Thereafter SI Ismail and SI Shawkat, members of the Civil Team of the Mohammadpur police station, allegedly assaulted Shafi with hockey sticks while taking him into a room on the first floor of the police station, immediately after he was remanded into their custody. They took him to Sohrawardy Hospital but he had died on arrival. Eyewitnesses at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue reported seeing serious injuries on Shafi’s dead body, and also said that the police coerced staff at the morgue to alter the contents of the autopsy report.
According to the police, Shafi confessed to theft and they went to recover the stolen goods from a house in the Agargaon area of the city. On the way, Shafi fell sick and they rushed him to the Sohrawardy Hospital, but it was too late. However, Shafi’s wife and his landlady, Sahera Begum and Mamtaj Begum, insisted that he was in good health when last seen just before he went to try to get his salary.
Md. Abul Kashem Gazi: Attacked on street
VICTIM: Md. Abdul Kashem Gazi
Around 9am on 24 November 2005, Md. Abul Kashem Gazi was on his way to buy spare parts for his refrigerator shop when he was stopped by a number of policemen in front of the Khilgaon police outpost. Three, namely OC Chowdhury Tarikul Alam, Non-Commissioned Officer Delwar Hossain and Constable Mosharaf Hossain, assaulted him on the street. Then they took him to Khilgaon police station where he was detained overnight. The police also took his mobile phone. They further assaulted Gazi while he was in detention.
Gazi was produced before a magistrate the next day under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and released on bail due to health grounds.
On December 19, Gazi filed charges against the policemen involved. He alleged that the policemen attacked him due to his affiliation with the opposition political party. Magistrate Abdullahel Baki ordered a police investigation of his allegations, but the outcome is not known.
Imran & Rozina Begum: Pay up or there will be more trouble
On 13 November 2005, a local gang of five went to Imran’s shop and demanded money. When Imran refused to pay they took him to the nearby Sheikh Sahebbazar crossing and beat him up. They then allegedly arranged with the Lalbag police for them to deal with him.
Around 3am two days later, roughly five police led by SI Atiar Rahman raided Imran’s house on Lalbag Road in the same area. They allegedly pulled his mother, Rozina Begum, on to the street and together with the gang beat her with sticks and tore her clothes off. The police also allegedly stole jewelry that she had been wearing. They threatened Rozina and her son that further trouble would come to them if they continued to refuse to pay the gang.
On December 8 Rozina lodged a case with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, in which she alleged that the Lalbag police station refused to record her complaint. Magistrate Baki Billah ordered a police investigation of which again nothing further is known.
Firoz Alam & others: Don’t protest in front of a police station
A gang of some 40 armed robbers looted the Hazi & Sons jewelry shop at Rupali Crossing, Basurhat Bazaar in Companiganj on 19 October 2005. A local businessman, Shaheen, promptly informed SI Shudhangshu Chakravarti that a crime was underway, but the police were reportedly slow to respond.
The following day some businessmen and other local people gathered to protest at the police inaction. Some alleged that the police were involved in the robbery, which is why they failed to react promptly. Tempers flared and some in the crowd threw rocks at the Companiganj police station. The police responded by assaulting the crowd with batons and then opening fire, killing five and injuring roughly 50. The deceased were identified as Firoz Alam (23), Babul Voumik (alias Shankar; 28), Alauddin (22), Kawsar (26) and Bidhan (24). The injured were rushed to Noakhali General Hospital and the subdistrict health complex.
Police and Rapid Action Battalion officials visited the scenes of both the robbery and the police shooting shortly thereafter. Two probes were formed to investigate, and they took depositions from over 100 people on October 22 and more in the following days. SP A K M Shahidul Islam, OC Ayub Ali and SI Shudhangshu Chakravarti were suspended from duties pending the inquiries.
The investigating committees found that the police should in this case face charges, and approval has been given for a case against them to proceed.
Rahman brothers: Blindfolded & bashed
On 27 July 2005 two university students and brothers, Azizur Rahman Shohel and Atiquer Rahman Jewel, had a conflict with two other students at their father’s private dormitory. The latter two complained to the Boalia police station. When police came to investigate around 9pm, they allegedly demanded but did not receive money, after which they took the two brothers to the station.
At the station, SI Hafizur, SI Netai and other personnel allegedly blindfolded and assaulted the brothers with batons, fists and boots. In addition, they administered electric shocks.
The next morning the young men were admitted to the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital for treatment. Higher officers reportedly visited them, but no details were available on the outcome.
When the case was reported in the media, the police allegedly concocted a story that the brothers had snatched the policemen’s weapons, leading to a conflict.
The case was taken up by the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture but he had reportedly received no reply from the government (E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.1, No. 10).
Abdur Razzak: Mother’s bribe too small to save son’s life
VICTIM: Abdur Razzak
In 2004 Ibrahim Ali of Barrpur tried to marry his daughter to Abdur Razzak, a 34-year-old goldsmith. Razzak’s family refused the proposal and Ibrahim’s family allegedly lodged a case with the district police station against Razzak in September as revenge, after which Razzak was put in detention.
When Rokeya Begum went to visit her son in jail she found that he was sick. Dr Faruk Sultan and pharmacist Kazi Ataur Rahman both allegedly demanded 3000 Taka (USD 40) for her son’s treatment. Begum did not have enough money, but managed to pay one third. The two men then told her what medicines she would have to buy. These cost another 2500 Taka. But after a few days Begum learned that her son never received the medicine, so she made a complaint.
Following Begum’s complaint, jail authorities allegedly arranged for a number of inmates to beat up Razzak as revenge. Afterwards, on 26 June 2005 he was sent him to the Mohammad Ali Medical College Hospital. But it was too little, too late, and he died around 2am the next day.
Begum filed a criminal complaint with a magistrate in Bogra district on 16 August 2005. The court ordered OC Mansur Ali Mondol of the district police station to take the case. But the officer allegedly submitted a distorted report to the court instead of recording the allegation as he had been instructed. On 15 September 2005, the court discharged the case without informing Begum, the plaintiff.
On 30 January 2006 Begum lodged another case against the alleged perpetrators, which has remained pending before the court.
Child rape victim gets no protection
VICTIM: Name withheld
A 13-year-old girl was in February 2005 taken by her uncle Ruhul Quddus Khandokar, a local Union Council member, to work as a maid in wealthy person’s house. On February 14, Khandokar allegedly raped his niece and then threatened her into silence. He allegedly raped her again on March 13, after which the victim informed her family. On March 18 a case was lodged with the Birampur police under the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Special Provision) (Amended) Act 2003.
The Birampur police arranged for a medical examination of the victim. Doctors of Dinajpur General Hospital opined that she had been raped. On June 14 the accused surrendered himself to the Session Judge’s Court of Dinajpur in order to avoid the case being heard at the Special Tribunal for Women and Children Repression Prevention. To the family’s disbelief, Session Judge Motiur Rahman granted bail on the basis that the alleged rape may have been consensual.
Having been released from detention, Khandokar threatened the family to withdraw the case and intimidated the victim and witnesses. On July 7, a complaint was lodged with the Birampur police station and on August 27 the public prosecutor sought to have the bail revoked. On November 15 the court ordered that Khandokar be put back in jail and the police prepared to take the case to the Special Tribunal of Women and Children Repression Prevention in Dinajpur. The accused was officially charged with rape on 9 January 2006.
For some reason, the victim’s family was instructed to ensure the attendance of all 23 prosecution witnesses before the special tribunal hearings on the same day; however, the family found this virtually impossible due to the distance of the court from the witnesses’ residences and other expenses and practical difficulties. Five witnesses also failed to give statements on February 13 when the judge did not attend as scheduled. On April 6, two witness statements were recorded, and on April 16 the victim was heard. On May 3, Judge Shamim Mohammad Afzal again granted the alleged perpetrator bail on the basis that the witness statements against him were unreliable as they were all from relatives of the victim. This decision appears to have overlooked the fact that inevitably all of the witnesses were also relatives of the accused.
Under intense public pressure Khandokar was rearrested but he again subsequently successfully applied for bail and was again released.
The lawyer of the victim has commented that it is unprecedented that the court would require all 23 witnesses to all attend the court together, which is without any procedural or legal validity.