The medical reports on teenage twin sisters, who were verbally abused and beaten up severely in the capital's Mirpur in October last year, have gone missing from a city hospital, casting doubt whether the victims will get justice.
Due to the mysterious disappearance of the reports, police could not submit charge sheet in the last four months.
Anuj Kumar Sarkar, sub-inspector of Shah Ali Police Station and also investigation officer of the case, told The Daily Star that the charge sheet was ready but he could not submit it as he did not get the reports from the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (Nitor).
The sisters -- Ashwad Habib Geen and Fariha Habib Meen -- suffered severe injuries in their legs and back as the accused beat them up with a bamboo stick. One of the sisters had her leg fractured. They received treatment at Nitor in phases.
“We need the report to prove in the charge sheet that the victims were assaulted,” the IO said, adding that the hospital authorities were making delays in handing over the reports, saying they were looking for those.
He said he had written thrice to the director of Nitor asking for the report. The first letter was sent on October 30 last year. The second one was sent on November 17 and the third one on January 19 this year.
They got receipts of all the letters from the director, the police official said, adding that he met the director on January 20, but he sought more time.
Contacted, Prof Iqbal Qavi, the director, said he had no idea where the reports were and that he had asked his staff to look into the matter.
This correspondent on Sunday visited the hospital's record room and queried about the report with the sisters' registration numbers.
An official named Mohiuddin, who was in-charge of the record room on that day, said they had no record of any girl by these names having received treatment at the hospital.
The record room is staffed in rotation, he said.
This correspondent also visited the record room earlier this month, but two staff there said they had no such files.
A high official of the hospital, requesting anonymity, told The Daily Star that they looked for the reports but could not find those.
However, Abdul Gani Mollah, a professor at Nitor's orthopaedic department that makes the reports, said files of such major cases were not supposed to go missing.
Also the joint director of the hospital, Gani said they would definitely look into the matter to know what happened.
He could not say anything when this correspondent asked him how a report could go missing.
Victims' father Ahsan Habib said he went to the hospital several times for the reports, but they failed to provide those.
He suspected that the accused in connivance with some hospital staff removed the reports.
In the meantime, the prime accused and his accomplice secured bail from court.
On October 19 last year, the 16-year-old sisters, who are HSC students of BCIC College on Chiriakhana Road, were assaulted near the college gate when they were returning home.
Jibon Karim alias Babu, owner of Ahona Fast Food and Khabar Hotel in the area, beat them up with a bamboo stick, as they protested abusive language hurled at them by him. As he is an influential man in the area, no one came to their rescue.
Jibon is said to have close ties with local political leaders.
The victims' father filed a case with Shah Ali Police Station the next day, accusing Jibon and some unnamed men of the attack.
Police arrested Jibon's restaurant partner, Lutfar Rahman, the same day while the Rapid Action Battalion arrested Jibon on October 24.
Both the arrestees are now on bail.
Had the police submitted the charge sheet earlier, they would not have got bail, Ahsan said, adding that he was disappointed with the way things were going.
The accused were moving freely before their eyes, which made his daughters feel more insecure, said the father.
Ahsan said his daughters were yet to recover from the injuries and that they were going to college with their mother.
Asked what would happen if police did not get the reports, IO Anuj said they would have to submit the charge sheet under section 323 of the Penal Code, meaning the victims might not get their rightful justice.
If they get the reports, he said, the charge sheet would be submitted under section 326 of the Penal Code, which means the chances of getting justice would be higher then.
Abdus Sattar Dulal, additional public prosecutor of Metropolitan Magistrate Court, told The Daily Star yesterday that mismatch between medical reports and the charge sheet or the first information report weakens a case and makes it easier for the accused to go unpunished.
“We have seen at least 10 to 15 percent of cases in which the accused got bail or released due to poor evidence or such mismatch,” he said.
Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers' Association Executive Director Salma Ali told The Daily Star that delay in submitting charge sheet, absence of proper evidence, damaged evidence and not presenting evidence properly were reasons enough to ruin any case.
It all goes in favour of the accused, she added.
IO Anuj said if proper supporting documents or evidence were not there, the charge sheet could not be filed properly, which would create more difficulties.
The investigation officer is supposed to submit charge sheet within 180 days for any case. However, for drug-related cases, the IO has to submit charge sheet within 21 days.