ATTACKS on the protesters against rape in the Feni town who reached there in a long march from Dhaka and the people who were waiting there to receive the protesters are disparaging in that the protests, which sparked off after two incidents of rape in Noakhali and Sylhet which involved leaders and activists of the Juba League and Chhatra League, are meant to create awareness of rape and violence against women. The attacks, alleged to have been perpetrated by leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League and its fronts such as Juba League and Chhatra League, on the march — joined in by 500 protesters who included members of a platform of 16 left-leaning student and socio-cultural organisations named Bangladesh against Rape and Impunity that has sat in at Shahbagh since October 5 to push for their charter of demands — left 35 injured. The protesters who came to be attacked were holding the long march to create awareness of rape that forms part of the social movement warranted to end rape and violence against women. The police in the first week of October also scuffled, near the InterContinental Hotel, with the protesters who marched in a procession towards the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka, leaving five of the protesters injured.
The ruling Awami League’s general secretary, who is also the roads and bridges minister, said, as New Age reported on October 7, that a collective social movement was needed against rape, which is ‘a social malaise’, and other forms of violence against woman. The protesters came to be attacked twice, in the earlier incident by the police, and in the incident at hand allegedly by leaders and activists of the Juba League and Chhatra League. The latest attack on the protesters took place when the police held rallies and other programmes across the country to create a social awareness of the issue of rape and violence against women. But in the case in Feni, the police are alleged, by many of the protesters, to have played the role of on-lookers although ruling party front leaders seek to say that the attacks were carried out by ordinary people and that none of the ruling party or its fronts was involved in the attacks. The local police, who said that they were still investigating the incident, say that outsiders attacked the marchers. The police, who said that they helped the protesters to leave Feni, are also alleged to have taken away one attacker from the marchers who captured him during the attack.
The government wants, as the minister earlier said, a social movement against rape. The police also want to create awareness of the issue as is evident in their holding awareness campaigns. But the protesters who are holding rallies and walking in processions to create awareness come to be attacked. Both of the attacks show a kind of high-handedness, of the police and of the ruling quarters. This must stop and the government must bring all involved in the attacks to justice.
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