A mother of four was gang-raped in Noakhali's Subarnachar early yesterday allegedly by 10 to 12 Awami League activists.
The 35-year-old woman, who was being treated at Noakhali General Hospital with severe injuries, claimed that she was raped for voting for “sheaf of paddy”, the electoral symbol of the BNP, during Sunday's national polls.
The woman alleged the rapists were accomplices of Ruhul Amin, a former member of Char Jubilee Union Parishad. “They had repeatedly insisted that I should vote for boat [the AL's symbol] but I cast my ballot for 'sheaf of paddy',” she said.
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Ruhul denied his involvement in the incident. He said the woman was his relative and they had no “enmity”. “I just met her once at the polling centre.” Asked, he said he was the publicity affairs secretary of the Subarnachar AL.
The woman said soon after midnight yesterday, some 10-12 men carrying sticks entered her home by cutting the surrounding fence. They tied her CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver husband and four children with ropes.
“They took me outside and raped me,” she said, groaning in pain.
She also said the rapists threatened to kill her husband and children and torch their house if she told anyone about the rape.
The victim's husband, who was also injured, said the criminals left around 4:00am after beating his wife unconscious and taking Tk 40,000, some gold ornaments and other valuables with them.
Soon after the alleged rapists left, the victim's husband and children cried for help. At this, the neighbours came and rescued them.”
“At first, a village doctor was called. But as she [the victim] was still bleeding, she was taken to Noakhali General Hospital at noon,” said one of the neighbours, wishing anonymity.
Shyamol Kumar Devnath, of the emergency department at the hospital, said they found evidence of rape. There were also injury marks on different parts of the body, he said.
The husband said the victim went to cast her vote at Char Jubilee-14 Government Primary School centre around 11:00am on Sunday. She took the ballot paper from the assistant presiding officer and went to a booth.
During that time, Ruhul, an Awami League man, allegedly insisted her to vote for the “boat”. He allegedly tried to snatch the ballot paper as she said she would vote for the “sheaf of paddy”. But the victim put the paper inside the box.
This made Ruhul furious and he threatened her, he said.
Talking to The Daily Star, the victim's brother-in-law said the woman had threatened him back.
Contacted, Elias Sharif, superintendent of police in Noakhali, confirmed the rape took place but claimed it was not related to voting.
“It is not true,” he said when asked about the victim's allegation of being gang raped for voting for the BNP symbol.
The police official said they were trying to arrest the alleged rapists.
Officer-in-charge Char Jabbar Police Station Nizam Uddin said he asked the victim's family to come to the station. “Once they come, a case will be filed,” he added.