The accusation of infidelity made by Rumana Manzur's husband is “nonsense,” and is an attempt to damage her reputation, her friends at her university in Canada and the Bangladeshi community there have said.
“I was shocked to learn that the untrue claims were made to try and divert attention away from the perpetrator of such a horrendous crime. It is my full hope that justice is served and that Rumana's widespread support is fully heard,” said Loni Slade, a PhD student from Canada, among 22 other resident students from the University of British Columbia.
She was a family-oriented, pious and brilliant academic, and a loving wife and mother, Loni said in a written statement addressed to The Daily Star and other national dailies yesterday.
“The Rumana I know cares about the important people in her life and about her success in scholarship and friendship.”
Rumana, the Dhaka University teacher who lost eyesight following torture by her husband, will return home from India today after doctors there expressed little hope of her getting back the vision.
She is scheduled to arrive at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 3:00pm, her cousin Rashed Maqsood said.
An assistant professor at the International Relations Department of DU and a postgraduate student of University of British Columbia in Canada, Rumana will be received by DU teachers and students at the airport.
Her eyes were critically damaged after her husband Hasan Sayeed Sumon pushed his fingers into her eyes on June 5.
She was flown to India on June 14 for better treatment and was admitted to Sankara Nethralaya, an eye hospital in Chennai. Later she was taken to Arvind Eye Centre in Pondicherry for a second opinion on her condition.
Indian ophthalmologists confirmed that her left eye has gone blind permanently while the retina of the other one is not responding to her brain.
Following his arrest on June 15, Sumon alleged that Rumana was involved in an extra-marital affair with an Iranian national during her stay in Canada.
However, her friends and acquaintances in Canada dubbed the accusations as baseless and a blatant lie.
“We are simply speechless, appalled and deeply hurt in the incident of the false accusation of Rumana's extramarital affair,” read another letter addressed to the media by Shahin Aktar and Saif Islam, residents in Vancouver, Canada on behalf of the local Bangladeshi families.
The letter said the Bangladeshi community in Vancouver is really small and it would be impossible for anyone to have an extramarital affair unnoticed.
Rumana had to struggle a lot to return home and write her thesis from Bangladesh. It was a big risk to do the thesis being away from the supervisor, as she would have to return to defend her thesis, the letter read.
“Still, she opted to do so just to be with her daughter and husband,” it added.
Isabel Andrade from Ecuador wrote: “I would like to clearly state that I think these allegations are baseless. She conducted herself responsibly throughout her stay at the college and was well respected by many people.”
“Whenever I went by her room, she was praying, phoning her family or studying,” said Bieke Johanna Magdalene Primavera Gils from Belgium.
“I strongly condemn such heinous acts of violence against any person and in particular my friend and neighbour, Rumana,” said Pearl Siganporia, another PhD student from Qatar.
Meanwhile, Sumon was placed on a one-day fresh remand yesterday for further interrogation.