Height of brutality
A teenage girl succumbed to serious burns yesterday morning, hours after she was set afire on flimsy grounds that she stole a mobile phone.
The incident happened in Shibpur upazila of Narsingdi on Friday night, when four men tied Aziza Akhter, 14, to a tree, doused petrol on her and set her alight, police and family members said.
With some 96 percent of her body burned, she was brought to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where she died, hospital sources said.
Abdus Sattar, Aziza's father, said he had no words to describe the brutality with which his daughter was killed.
“I could not even recognise that it was my daughter when I saw her. As I rushed to the spot after hearing someone scream, I asked her: 'Hey, who are you?' She said, 'I am your daughter, father … please save me.' That's when I knew,” the grieving father said, breaking into tears.
About 10 days ago, Beauty Begum, who happens to be the victim's aunt, lost her mobile phone. Beauty suspected that Aziza and one of her sisters took the phone, said Sattar.
Beauty's husband and Sattar are brothers.
“But at that time [when the phone got lost], Aziza was working at our poultry farm, which is some 250 yards from my home,” Sattar said, and outright denied that his daughters could do something like stealing a phone.
Two days later, however, Beauty's mother Tanuza Begum suddenly came to their house and said that she came to know through witchcraft that Aziza and her sister Mabia had stolen the phone, Sattar said.
An intense altercation followed, although Tanuza and her other family members left Sattar's house soon afterwards.
Then around 8:00pm on Friday, Sattar went to the poultry farm, leaving Aziza and his son home.
On his way home about an hour later, Sattar saw a fire nearby and rushed there.
Finding that it was Aziza, he then took her to a nearby hospital with the help of locals. She was later shifted to the DMCH as her condition worsened.
Quoting Aziza, Sattar told The Daily Star that Beauty's cousin Rubel picked up Aziza from their home.
“She was taken half a kilometre away from the house at a jackfruit orchard where three more youths were waiting. Later, they tied her to a tree and beat her badly.”
At one stage, the four set her alight as they failed to coerce her into admitting the theft, Sattar said.
Police arrested Tanuza in this connection and are trying to arrest the other suspects, said Syeduzzaman, officer-in-charge of Shibpur Police Station.
Sattar filed a murder case last night against seven people, including Beauty, Rubel and Tanuza.