Woman dies in custody | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:21 AM, February 26, 2020

Woman dies in custody

Police say she fell sick; family claims foul play

A woman died in police custody early yesterday, hours after she was picked up from the city's Mohammadpur area.

The dead, Kalpana Begum, 38, was a mother of two and used to reside in Kamrangir Char area. Her husband, Md Selim, 40, is a pickup truck driver.

Though police said the victim died after being taken to the hospital, her family alleged that she was tortured and killed.

Police have denied torturing her.  

Abdul Latif, officer-in-charge of Mohammadpur Police Station, said they arrested the woman along with three others from a house on Nurjahan Road for their alleged involvement in "sex work". 

Two of the other arrestees were women, he said.

The OC said, "We raided the flat on Monday evening after receiving a phone call at 999 reporting that some antisocial activities were going on in there," said Latif.

"They were kept at Mohammadpur Police Station. Around 3:00am, Kalpana suddenly started yelling and saying that she was feeling unwell," he said.

She was immediately taken to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital (ShSMCH) and later shifted to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases where doctors said "she was brought dead," the police official added.  

Her body was taken back to Suhrawardy Medical College morgue for an autopsy, the OC said.

Victim's daughter Ayesha Akhter Nupur said their mother left home around 3:00pm saying that she was going to visit the hospital.

As she did not return until late at night, we started calling her, she said, adding that the phone was switched off for the whole night.  

"Finally, we found the phone turned on around 11:00am. A police official received the call and told that our mother died," said Ayesha.

The victim's family said she had been suffering from chest pain for the last couple of days. 

She even had a medical check-up at the Suhrawardy hospital a few days ago, family members said. 

The victim's sister Nilufar Yasmin said, "The police could have let us know that they have arrested her. Why they had to switch her phone off?

"Why did they kill her?" asked the lamenting sister.

The family denied police's claims regarding her involvement with any criminal or anti-social activities and said police "fabricated the story" as she died in their custody.

The family also alleged that they were not allowed to see the body before the post-mortem.

"If we were allowed to see the body, we would have been able to inspect it for signs of abuse or torture," said Kalpana's brother Bacchu Miah. 

He demanded a fair probe into the death. 

The other arrestees were taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court from where they were released after paying a fine of Tk 300 each. 

As soon as they walked out of the court premises, some female police members detained the two females and pushed into a police van around 5:45pm, witnessed our court correspondent.  

Meanwhile, rights bodies Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) and Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB) issued statements demanding an independent inquiry into the death of the woman. 

"…Unless a crime has been proven in court and a person convicted of the crime, everyone has a right to be treated with the same dignity. Besides, the constitution states, 'No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment'," stated the press release sent by ASK. 

Meanwhile, the statement issued by HRFB said, "The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court had issued clear directives regarding the conduct of law enforcers during arrest and remand, which is reportedly not being followed in many cases."

On February 18, a mother of two died several hours after she was picked up from home by the Detective Branch of police in Gazipur.

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