The Police Bureau of Investigation on Saturday said that the perpetrators set Nusrat Jahan Rafi ablaze on instruction from the jailed madrassah principal Siraj-ud-Doula, her abuser.
PBI chief Banaj Kumar Majumder, addressing a press conference at his Dhanmondi office in the capital, said that they found involvement of at least 13 people, including two females, in the incident of arson attack on Nusrat that caused her death on April 10.
He said that a group of four perpetrators, including Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrassah student Shahadat Hossain Shamim and former student Nur Uddin, met with madrassah principal Siraj in jail on April 4 and was instructed to ‘teach Nusrat a lesson’.
Shahadat, president of the madrassah unit of ruling Awami League’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League, and Nur were very close to Siraj and the duo led two human chains in Sonagazi demanding immediate release of the madrassah principal.
Siraj was arrested on March 28, immediately after Nusrat’s mother lodged a case against him for sexually harassing her daughter on March 27.
Nusrat was an Alim examinee of the madrassah and came to the examination hall to sit for her Arabic first paper examination on April 6 morning when she faced the arson attack.
She struggled for her life in the next three days and finally succumbed to her injuries at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10.
PBI chief said that the perpetrators, after receiving instruction from the madrassah principal, met at a meeting along with others in a room of a hostel of the madrassah on April 5 and hatched the plan to kill Nusrat by setting her ablaze.
On the morning of April 6, a female with three extra burqas and kerosene was waiting for the assailants at the roof of the cyclone shelter on the madrassah premises, he said.
He said that the PBI investigators found that four assailants set fire to Nusrat on the roof of the Cyclone Shelter and that one of them was a female and two of them males.
He, however, did not clarify whether the fourth assailant was male or female.
Another female student duped Nushrat into believing that one of her friends Nishad was being thrashed on the roof of the Cyclone Shelter.
The PBI chief said that they had so far found two reasons behind the arson attack: to get back at her for dishonouring the madrassah principal, a perceived Islamic scholar, by lodging a case against him; and rejecting one of the perpetrators Shahadot Hossain’s proposal to establish an affair with her.
He said that they managed to arrest seven of the eight named in the case lodged by Nusrat’s brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman.
The arrestees are madrassah principal Siraj, 55, teacher Asfar Uddin, 35, Sonagazi municipality councillor Maksud Alam, 45, Nur Uddin, 20, Shahadat Hossain Shamim, 20, Jobayer Ahammed, 20 and Jabed Hossain, 19, he said.
Only one of the named accused, Hafez Abdul Kader, 25, is still at large.
There were others involved in the crime, said the PBI chief.
PBI chief Banaj said that the accused Nur Uddin, after his arrest from Mymensingh on Friday, gave some details of the incident to them and confessed to his involvement in setting Nusrat on fire.
He, however, did not disclose what Nur Uddin said in his statement and added that they were examining Nur Uddin’s statement.
Banaj also said that they had already detected the involvement of one of the females in the killing, namely Shampa alias Champa.
Of the arrestees, Shahadat Hossain Shamim was picked up from Muktagachha in Mymensingh early Saturday and Jabed Hossain was arrested from Rampur area in Feni Friday night, reported New Age correspondent in Fein, quoting investigation officer of the case inspector Md Shah Alam of PBI.
With the two, a total of 13 people were arrested in connection with the case lodged by Nusrat’s brother.
Of them, Jabed was produced before a court in Feni that granted police a seven-day custody for interrogation.
In a statement that Nusrat gave to a doctor while undergoing treatment, she said that four people in burqas, with their faces in veils and hands in gloves, set fire to her by throwing kerosene on her body when she did not agree to withdraw the allegation of abuse against the madrassah principal.
She said since the assailants were fully covered, she could not identify any of them.
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