Rights commission finds no connection of gang rape with polls

Prothom Alo illustration

Prothom Alo illustration

The gang-rape victim of Noakhali’s Subarnachar has been consistently alleging that her plight was for voting for the opposition BNP’s candidate in the 30 December elections.

However, the National Human Rights Commission has not found any correlations between the 11th parliamentary polls and the incident of rape and torture of the woman on the night following the ballot.

The commission’s preliminary investigation says the woman was severely assaulted and raped but, it insists, the incident had no connections with the polls.

It observes that the incident occurred following “previous enmity”.

When asked about the findings, the NHRC chairman, Kazi Reazul Hoque, referred to the commission’s probe body report and confidently said the incident of rape has no links to the polls.

On Saturday, the victim said to Prothom Alo, “If I had previous enmity with them, they would have attacked me earlier. I don’t belong to any political party. But, I voted for ‘sheaf of paddy’ as per my judgement.”

The woman also said as she did not know whom to submit the ballot paper, she gave it to those who eventually attacked and raped her. Then, she recalled, one of them at the polling station told her that she would have to pay a high price in the evening.

Defending the probe report, Kazi Reazul Hoque, a former bureaucrat, iterated a customary commendation, as made by his commission that the accused be brought under “exemplary punishment”, no matter whoever were involved in it.

The victim’s husband on 1 January told Prothom Alo that he was taken to the police station from the hospital for filing a case on 31 December night. He recorded his statement there and police asked him whether the names of the accused were correct. He nodded in the affirmative, he said.

But, now he has alleged that the police informed him only partially what they wrote on the case statement. Since he has no literacy, he could not read what the policemen wrote there.

A video clip collected by Prothom Alo shows that the victim was telling newsmen that she was asked to cast her vote for ‘boat’, electoral symbol of the ruling Awami League. But, she said that she would vote for ‘sheaf of paddy’.

The woman, a mother of four, was gang raped and assaulted at Charjubli village in Subarnachar upazila on 30 December night by a gang of 10 men after the general elections.

However, the NHRC report does not cover anything of her voting and threats given by one of the accused at the polling station.

Rather, the NHRC report echoes the police version of the case statement.

“The accused assaulted and raped the victim over previous enmity. Moreover, the woman never stated before the NHRC probe body that she voted for ‘sheaf of paddy’. Her husband made the same account,” the NHRC report clearly states.

It also says, “There are no proofs that the woman was assaulted and raped for voting for ‘sheaf of paddy’ in the 11th parliamentary election. No evidence was found that the accused belong to Awami League or was she tortured and raped by any Awami League activist.”

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a rights body, sent a representative team to Subarnachar after the incident. The team has not yet submitted its report after their return.

However, ASK executive director Shipa Hafiz told Prothom Alo, “Our team has reported both previous enmity and voting day’s incidents.”

The NHRC formed a three-member investigation team that was sent to Noakhali. The team members spoke to the victim, her husband, the physician looking after her, the police administration and some local people.

*This piece. originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla Online, has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain. Prothom Alo Noakhali staff correspondent Mahbubur Rahman contributed to filing of this report.

Source: Prothom Alo.

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