Following the December 30 national election, a woman has been gang-raped and according to reports, the incident was a retaliation from the ruling party activists for not voting in their favour. However, from field trips, other stories come out and connection with local politicians become evident, writes Shiblee Hasan after visiting Subarnachar
Bangladesh Awami League’s third consecutive term in the office starts not only with vote anomalies (reported by Transparency International Bangladesh) but also with violence and sexual assault. On December 31, a woman hailed from Noakhali’s Subarnachar was gang-raped by a group of miscreants. The victim, who has four children, alleged that her misfortune came because she voted for Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Following the incident, protest rallies continue to demand maximum punishment of this horrible crime, even people living abroad have come to streets to protest at this. On January 6, I went to Subarnachar upazila in order to monitor the whole situation. It seems to me that the real scenario is beyond the reports we have read or seen in the mainstream media.
The victim lives in the Pankharkabazar area of Subarnachar upazila. She is not only a member of the landless organisation but also has a character of protesting at unjust in her social periphery. And for this reason, group of local political goons led by Ruhul Amin dislikes her. Amin threatened her at the polling booth on December 30 for not voting in their favor. The gang rape was intended to stop protests of the landless organisation, where the victim was a major voice. In this case, the event of the polling station is just an occasion. She was brutally tortured by Ruhul Amin’s gang, around 10 to 12 accomplices of Ruhul Amin raped her. At one stage she became unconscious. Then they looked for the 14-year-old daughter of the rape victim, fortunately the child escaped tactfully. The victim was beaten horribly and bearing signs of torture. At one stage, the rapists left her there, probably thinking the woman is dead.
A case was filed with the concerned police station after the incident. But the list of the accused in the case did not include the name of the former union parishad member Ruhul Amin, who is also upazilla publicity secretary of the ruling party. Later, when the countrywide movement began, his name along with some other names were included in the complaint by the order of the senior administration officials. The names of 14 accused that came in our investigation are the following: Ruhul Amin, Mosharrof Hossain, Salah Uddin, Shohel, Henju Mia, Bechu, Jasim, Sohel, Abu, Swapan, Anwar, Badshah, Hanif, Amir. At least three accused have not been arrested yet, which is worrying. We also spoke to the district administration and presented our concerns on this issue. It is important to note that the administration is operating this case very quickly. So far, the activities and actions of the Noakhali administration are commendable. But we have also noticed that there are forces within the administration in favor of Ruhul Amin and trying to save him.
Today's Ruhul Amin was not born suddenly, rather, he is a product of a long misguided political indulgence and malpractices. Ruhul Amin has become a millionaire from 'hotel boy' by abusing the party power. While participating in a protest rally at Subarnachar, we have come to know from the locals about the torture and misdeeds of the accused Ruhul Amin. A lot of information came out in our research. We found the so called 'Ruhul Amin Nagar' which is built by Ruhul Amin. There is a brick field, marketplaces with shops and he runs his team from here. This is Ruhul Amin who is involved in various misdeeds, including land grabbing, extortion and drug trade. From the information we have gathered so far, the local UP chairman and Subarnachar upazila Awami League general secretary Hanif Chowdhury is the source of Ruhul Amin’s power. No one dares to speak against Ruhul Amin because he is under the ruling party’s shelter.
Ruhul Amin, the main accused of the gang rape, holds a prominent post, that is Subarnachar Awami League's publicity secretary. UP Chairman Hanif has a close relation with the local lawmaker Ekramul Haque. By that source, Ruhul Amin was given the responsibility of Awami League's ward secretary in 2009 and started influencing people for his own interest using party power. In 2011 union parishad elections, Ruhul Amin was elected as an UP Member. Ignoring many competent candidates, Hanif Chowdhury made Ruhul Amin publicity secretary. Basically, under the shelter of Hanif, Ruhul Amin dominated the area and established his own crime kingdom.
After observing the overall condition, I think that there is a need to take a number of steps quickly for the victims of the gang rape, their family and the case.
-Authority should bring the victim to Dhaka quickly and move to 'One Stop Crisis'.
-The victim and his family's security has not been confirmed properly yet. So ensure the victim’s security and her family safety should be of utmost importance.
-The law enforcement should arrest all the defendants of the case including members of the 'Ruhul Amin Gang' as soon as possible.
-Bring a verdict in this case of gang rape within 90 days.
-General Secretary of the Subarnachar Upazila Awami League, the main exponent of all the misdeeds of the accused Ruhul Amin, Hanif Chowdhury should be fired permanently from Bangladesh Awami League. Otherwise, this trial is likely to be manipulated.
-We demand the highest punishment of rapists. Do not kill without trial, we want to see exemplary punishment.
Rape is the most brutal and vicious form of sexual offence and it prevails in our society with an alarming condition. In Bangladesh many victims never report rapes. There are numerous reasons for this to happen. When the victims go to file complaints, they are further victimised by comments and negligence on the part of the police. In this Subarnachar case we can see the negligence of from local administration right after the incident. When the victim’s husband went to police station to file the case, local police did not include the name of Ruhul Amin. But why? Many of us believe that the police have done this because of political influence.
Finally, I will say that we want to see justice served in the case of this gang rape in the shortest possible period. We hope that justice does not get seised by the prolonged period of the trial process.
Shiblee Hasan is the convener of Students Community against Rape and Sexual Violence
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Mindspeak