Protests erupt as Dhaka University student raped

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:25, Jan 07,2020 | Updated: 01:08, Jan 07,2020


Dhaka University students stage a candlelight vigil at the Central Shaheed Minar on Monday in protest at the rape of their fellow at Kurmitola in Dhaka on Sunday. — Indrajit Kumer Ghosh

A Dhaka University female student was allegedly raped on Sunday evening by a person in a roadside bush between Kurmitola General Hospital and Kurmitola Golf Club on the Airport Road, triggering massive protests in Dhaka and elsewhere.

Protesters blocked the Shahbagh intersection for an hour and issued a 48-hour ultimatum for the authorities concerned to arrest the suspect or a tougher programme would be announced.

The victim was admitted to the one-stop crisis centre at Dhaka Medical College Hospital where her medical examination was carried out, hospital officials said.

Though out of danger, she was still traumatized, the hospital officials said.

DMCH forensic department head Shohel Mahmud said that they obtained evidence which suggested that she was raped.

The evidence was sent to a DNA laboratory to determine whether one or multiple persons were involved in the rape, he further said, adding that injury marks were found on her body including her throat.

Police said that they launched an investigation after the victim’s father lodged a complaint with the Dhaka Cantonment police station on Monday accusing unknown persons of the crime that took place between 7:00pm and 9:00pm on Sunday.

The police investigators have already collected her belongings from the spot in a bush surrounded with trees for beautification between the busy Airport Road and a service lane used for the Kurmitola Golf Club garden.

Her belongings, including a pair of her trousers, a key-ring, an inhaler, and a wrist-watch, were sent for forensic examination.

The place of the incident remained usually dark though there was some green light on the nearby pavement, intended for beautification.

Gulshan police deputy commissioner Sudip Kumar Chakraborty said that they received the victim’s statement for the investigation.

According to the statement, Sudip said, she inadvertently got down from a bus in front of Kurmitola General Hospital instead of the nearby Shewra bus stop on her way to the house of one of her friends in the area.

She was walking up the pavement when a man of about 30 years in jeans suddenly held her mouth shut, forcibly took her into the bushy area, the statement said, adding that the man  then rendered her unconscious and raped her.

Once she gained her full consciousness, she took a vehicle and rushed to her friend’s house at about 10:00pm. From that place she was taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said Sudip, adding, ‘She was at the place for about two to two and a half hours.’

The Criminal Investigation Department, the Rapid Action Battalion, the detective branch joined the investigation amid the raging protests at various places when protesters alleged that the culture of impunity in the country resulted in a dozen such cases every day. 

Military police officials of the Dhaka Cantonment visited the crime scene in the afternoon. 

‘We are examining the victim’s statement to identify the perpetrator,’ said DB deputy commissioner Mashiur Rahman.

DMCH director Brigadier General Nasir Uddin said that the student was still in a trauma.

Our Dhaka University correspondent reported that as soon as the news of the rape spread on the campus on Monday, hundreds of her fellow students burst into protests and took out processions at the university.

All student organisations and platforms, including Awami League-backed Chhatra League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed Chhatra Dal and the Students Unity against Violence, an alliance of 12 student organisations, and the Bangladesh Student Rights Protection Council staged separate demonstrations on the campus.

They demanded that the perpetrator be given exemplary punishment so that ‘none can dare to think of doing such a ghastly and barbaric act against women in the future’.

The Students Unity against Violence blocked the Shahbagh intersection for an hour in protest against the rape and gave a 48-hour ultimatum for the authorities concerned to arrest the suspected rapist.

The road block at the Shahbagh intersection from about 12:30pm that halted traffic movement was withdrawn at about 1:30pm.

Dhaka University Central Students’ Union vice-president Nurul Haque Nur with his injures appeared at the Shahbagh demonstration and threatened to wage a tougher movement if the rapist was not arrested within the stipulated timeframe.

Shahbagh police station officer-in-charge Abul Hasan said that the vehicular movement became normal at the area after the students withdrew the blockade.

The Bangladesh Chhatra League staged a demonstration in front of  Raju Memorial Sculpture demanding justice for the victim and punishment of the rapist.

The Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal formed a human chain at the base of the Aparajeyo Bangla sculpture of the university. 

The Dhaka University Teachers Association in a statement signed by association president ASM Maksud Kamal and secretary Nijamul Huq condemned the incident and demanded exemplary punishment of the rapist.

The Naree Samhati and the Socialist Women Forum in separate statements also condemned the incident and demanded justice for the victim.

The Bangladesh Mahila Parishad staged a demonstration at the base of the Raju sculpture on Monday afternoon demanding exemplary punishment of the culprit.

Sifatul Islam, a student of DU philosophy department, started a hunger strike in front of the Raju Sculpture protesting against the rape and seeking justice for the girl.

After visiting the hospital, DU vice-chancellor professor Akhtaruzzaman said that the university authorities would provide all kinds of assistance to the victim student and called for finding out the suspect without any delay.

The DMCH authorities on Monday formed a medical board for providing better treatment to the student.

A group of Dhaka University students also blocked the Kurmitola-Airport section of the road near the crime spot for half an hour halting the traffic movement in the area demanding punishments of the culprits.

The DUCSU brought out a candle-light procession protesting against the rape from the union building which ended at Central Shaheed Minar on Monday.

The DUCSU also announced that they would submit a memorandum to the Home Minister demanding justice for the victim.

Dhaka University Provost Committee in a press release on Monday condemned the rape and demanded early steps to ensure punishment of the people involved in the sexual abuse of the student.

The committee made the decision at a meeting, presided over by the vice-chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman.

It also took several other decisions relating to students’ attachment to halls and allotment of seats, said the release.

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