Lakingme Chakma Death: speakers demand prompt action against culprits
Immediate action must be taken against those involved in Lakingme Chakma's death, said speakers at a press conference yesterday.
The girl's parents finally received her body on Sunday and buried her in Ramu of Cox's Bazar 25 days after her mysterious death.
Fourteen-year-old Lakingme was abducted from her Shilkhali Chakma Para home on January 5 last year. Later, she was kept at nearby villages until January 8. On January 9, she was taken to Shahpori island in Teknaf, where she was detained at Kala Monu's home for the next two days, found a 10-member investigation team of rights activists, indigenous community leaders, journalists and teachers.
On December 28 and 29, 2020, the team went to the houses of Lakingme and Ataullah whom she was married to after abduction, and met Cox's Bazar SP, public prosecutor and Rab commander. Based on their findings, the team organised the press conference at Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha (BNPS) in the capital's Mohammadpur.
"On January 11, Lakingme was taken to Cumilla by Ataullah and later on she was converted and married to him at a registrar's office. If OC Pradeep Kumar Das [now accused of killing Major Sinha] of Teknaf Police Station would have recorded the case of Lakingme's father Lala Aung Chakma, she could have been rescued," said keynote speaker Prof Farha Tanjim Titil of Kushtia Islamic University, on behalf of the team.
According to her, although Lala managedto file a case with Cox's Bazar Women and Children Repression Tribunal on January 27, the PBI negligently investigated the case. And after 11 months and six days, Lakingme's body was found in a Cox's Bazar hospital morgue.
"Since it was proved that Lakingme was only 14 years old when she was abducted and she was forcibly converted and married, which means she was raped, the family must get justice and the accused must be held accountable for this...
"Besides, the law enforcers must investigate whether she killed herself or was murdered because we have found many examples that she was instigated to commit suicide," said Prof Titil.
"The Lakingme's family must be given protection since they are feeling insecure and they must be given compensation. Also, a departmental inquiry into PBI's negligence must be carried out and punishment must be ensured for those involved in certificate forgery, forced conversion and marriage of the minor," she added.
She also expressed concern over maintenance and guardianship of Lakingme's child.
Samakal's journalist Rajib Noor, one of the team members, said Ataullah had to pay Tk 60,000 for the marriage, but they found that his financial condition was not that good.
"A lot of money has been used in the whole abduction process, and we believe there is someone else behind this," he said.
Shahnaz Sumi, deputy director of BNPS, who moderated the event, said the investigation team found five crimes in this incident -- abduction, forced conversion, child marriage, rape, and suicide instigation.
Demanding exemplary punishments for the perpetrators, she also called on the local administration to release Lakingme's autopsy report.
Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said the tendency of concealing the real age of a girl using a forged certificate, and forced conversion is a serious crime, and they must be brought under justice.
He is also concerned over decline in indigenous population in Teknaf.
Shamsul Huda, executive director of Association for Land Reforms of Bangladesh, said the Teknaf police, PBI investigation team and Cox's Bazar public prosecutor must be held accountable for Lakingme's death.
Demanding justice for her, Sadeka Halim, dean of Social Science, University of Dhaka, said the safety and security of the minorities must be ensured.
Dipayan Khisha of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Babilon Chakma, organising secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan Pahari Chhatra Parishad; and Rafique Ahmed Sheeraji of ALRD, also spoke at the event.