As more details of the case of a 12-year-old boy from Bogura who was forced to confess to killing his younger brother in 2015 are being revealed, we are horrified to hear of the ordeal that this child and his parents have been put through for almost six years. This week, a video report from The Daily Star delved deeper into the case and revealed a shocking level of incompetence and potential corruption from the investigating police, as well as the torture of the minor suspect Sourav that continues to traumatise him, even today.
In the report, the statement from Sourav’s father, day labourer Md Mohidul Islam, is truly heart-breaking. He struggled to hold back his tears while speaking of how, after the agony of losing his eight-year-old son, instead of receiving justice for his murder, he had to spend his remaining strength and resources in protecting his other child from a potential miscarriage of justice. It is clear from his tale that at every step of this case, there was a total disregard for the law—he could hear 12-year-old Sourav being tortured at the police station but was not allowed to see him; he did not receive any assistance from the police or local government actors regarding the case; and he was even forced to flee from his village after being threatened by the “influential” people who, he alleges, framed his son for the crime.
However, Md Mohidul refused to be intimidated and filed a no-confidence motion, after which the investigation was handed over to the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), which later arrested two persons in connection with the murder. In fact, the sub-inspector of PBI Bogura revealed that they did not find any evidence of Sourav even being near the scene of the crime. So based on what evidence did the local police arrest him? When questioned on this, the callous reply from the local police station was that they have “a lot of work to do” and new investigations can reveal new findings later.
The chief of the PBI has now suggested that to avoid further occurrences like this, higher officials should be involved in the process before any recording of a child’s confessional statement. However, measures such as this will be far too little, too late for Sourav, who is still unable to hear from one ear due to the torture he was subjected to. This shameful police brutality as well as the possible police collusion with local influential actors to frame a minor are not an issue that can be taken lightly. It is symptomatic of a wider problem of law enforcers resorting to lawlessness and subverting the law to serve their own needs. For too long, we have seen violent and corrupt police officers escape accountability with little or no disciplinary action. We urge the government to recognise the gravity of the situation and take immediate step to investigate the police officers who tortured Sourav into confessing. The lack of a strong response from the authorities will only reduce people’s confidence in their ability to protect minors from such abuse at the hands of law enforcers again.