The fact-finding committee of National Human Rights Commission did not find any link between the general election and the gang rape of a housewife in Noakhali's Subarnachar the following day, contradicting the claim of the victim herself.
The woman has all along been alleging that 10 to 12 accomplices of Ruhul Amin, a former member of Char Jubilee Union Parishad, raped her for casting vote for “sheaf of paddy”, the electoral symbol of the BNP, in the December 30 polls.
This newspaper obtained video clips of the victim and her husband making the allegation on December 31. She gave similar statements when she talked to journalists later on.
Ruhul, who had been the publicity affairs secretary of Subarnachar Awami League, was sacked by the party following his arrest in connection with the case.
Evidence of raping and severely beating the victim and inflicting grievous injuries on her has been found, says the report of the committee. “But no link of beating and rape with the 11th parliamentary polls were found during investigation.”
The incident took place as a sequel to previous enmity with the accused as cited in the statement of the case filed by the victim's husband, added the report.
After the case was filed, the complainant claimed to have told police that accomplices of Ruhul raped his wife as she cast vote for “sheaf of paddy”.
Some of Ruhul's accomplices had allegedly asked her to vote for AL's electoral symbol “boat”. As she did not comply, an altercation ensued and they threatened her with dire consequences, he alleged.
The husband told The Daily Star on January 1 that police wrote the first information report and asked him to sign it. “I am illiterate ... I could not read what was written in it. I just signed it.”
He also told police that Ruhul gave the order, but they did not include him in the list of nine accused, he alleged at the time.
The victim and her husband yesterday again told The Daily Star that they will stick to the statements they have been making all along.
Contacted earlier, Inspector (investigation) Md Ibrahim Khalil, also investigation officer of the case, said the complainant had informed them that the accused were supporters of ex-UP member Ruhul.
Asked why Ruhul was not named in the case statement, the IO claimed that the complainant did not mention the name.
Contacted yesterday, NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said, “To our investigation committee, it did not appear that the incident was relating to election. In the case, the complainant also did not mention that the incident has any link with election.”
The victim told the committee that those people asked her to cast vote for “boat” but she said she would cast vote for “sheaf of paddy”, said the NHRC boss.
“She did not say that she was assaulted for not casting vote for 'boat',” he added, citing the fact-finding committee report.
The victim's husband also did not say in his statement and in the case that his wife was beaten and raped for voting for “sheaf of paddy”, according to Reazul.
“Our committee members did not find that the incident took place exclusively centring on the election. The committee clearly said about the gang rape but could not say categorically the reason behind the rape.”
Replying to a query, Reazul also said the victim and her husband did not say anything about involvement of Ruhul. They rather made mention of accomplices of Ruhul, which is included in the report. “That's why Ruhul has been arrested.”
The three-member fact-finding committee headed by NHRC Director Al-Mahmud Faizul Kabir submitted the report on January 6. The commission held a meeting the next day and uploaded the findings on its website.
The report recommended bringing the accused to book in the quickest possible time and ensure punishment.
The NHRC chairman said if the victim wants, the commission will provide her with legal support.
Though the condition of the victim, who is undergoing treatment at Noakhali General Hospital, has improved a bit, she cannot move alone. She is still reeling from the trauma, reports our district correspondent.
ATTACK IN FARIDPUR
Another NHRC probe body found that the post-polls attack on the minorities in Faridpur-4 constituency was carried out by “some unruly supporters” to establish supremacy in the area using political muscle power.
The committee in its report, however, didn't mention clearly whose supporters were they.
In the polls, AL's Kazi Zafar Ullah and independent candidate Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury contested for the parliamentary seat, and Mujibur emerged the winner.
Contacted over the phone, NHRC Secretary Hiranmaya Barai said the attacks were carried out by supporters of both the candidates.
Hiranmaya led the three-member probe body, which visited four spots of Bhanga in Faridpur on January 3 and took statements from seven supporters of both the AL and independent candidates.
The report was submitted to the commission on January 9.
“In the incident, people from the Muslim community also came under attack besides people of the Hindu community,” read the report.
Late on December 30 after the polling and the next day, some national media outlets reported that about a hundred houses including those of the minorities in Bhanga and Sadarpur upazilas were vandalised and looted allegedly by supporters of the independent candidate.