Nusrat loses battle for life
Madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi lost her battle for life last night, five days after she was set ablaze at a madrasa in Feni -- an incident that touched off outrage all over the country.
“She died around 9:30pm,” Dr Samanta Lal Sen, chief coordinator of the National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery at the DMCH, told The Daily Star.
A group of four unidentified persons poured kerosene on the 18-year-old girl and set her afire on April 6 allegedly for refusing to withdraw a case against the principal of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa over sexual assault on her late last month.
At the news of Nusrat's death last night, her father AKM Musa broke down in tears and kept demanding justice for the murder of his daughter.
Referring to the April 6 incident, Nusrat's uncle Nurul Huda Shamim wondered how the incident took place in broad daylight at the madrasa where security personnel stood guard to provide security for the Alim examinations.
“Nusrat was an Alim examinee and she was supposed to get security … she was victimised by the principal [Maulana Siraj Ud Doula] of the madrasa.
“The madrasa committee is responsible for failing to ensure her security.”
He demanded that the government investigate the incident and ensure exemplary punishment to all the culprits.
Only a few minutes before the Alim exams on April 6, four unidentified persons allegedly took Nusrat to the rooftop of the three-storey administrative building of the madrasa, saying one of her friends was being assaulted there, Nusrat's brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman had told this newspaper earlier.
Then they doused her with kerosene and set her on fire, he said.
Talking to this correspondent last night, Dr Samanta said, “We tried our best. The prime minister communicated with us round-the-clock. If there were even a little possibility for sending her to Singapore, we would have done that.
“Her body will be kept at the morgue for autopsy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the officer-in-charge of Sonagazi Model Police Station in Feni was withdrawn for his alleged negligence in handling the case over setting the madrasa girl on fire.
In another development, a Feni court placed madrasa principal Siraj, the main suspect in the case, on a seven-day remand.
Two other accused -- Absar Uddin, a lecturer in English at the madrasa, and Ariful Islam, an Alim examinee -- were also remanded for five days each.
Feni Senior Judicial Magistrate Saraf Uddin Ahmed passed the order after police produced the three before him.
The court will hear today a police prayer for placing another accused, Alim student Zubayer Ahmed, on a seven-day remand.
Law enforcers arrested Zubayer and a niece of the madrasa principal on Tuesday night over their alleged links to the incident.
So far police have arrested nine people in the case.
A REPEAT OFFENDER?
Siraj had earlier faced allegations of sexual harassment and had been sued for cheque forgery, vandalism and arson. He was arrested in the cases but got released after securing bail from court.
Locals and a number of staffers and students at the madrasa said no one at the institution dared to say anything against Siraj, an expelled Jamaat-e-Islami leader, who was backed by a section of local influential leaders.
An allegation of certificate forgery was brought against him after he joined the madrasa in 2000. But he managed to overcome it, using his political clout.
In October last year, a female student filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the principal with Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) AKM Enamul Karim, also president of the madrasa governing body. The compliant was withdrawn later.
Last year, a case was filed against Siraj over a Tk 1.39 crore-cheque forgery. He landed in jail in the case but got released, securing bail from court.
Earlier, two cases were filed against him on charges of vandalism and arson in Feni during political unrest in 2014. He was arrested and sent to jail. He was later released on bail in both the cases.
Talking to this newspaper, a number of students and staffers at the madrasa said the principal allowed some outsiders to stay in the dormitory, and used them as his henchmen.
They staged demonstration in support of him after his arrest in the sexual harassment case filed by Nusrat's mother on March 27.
Moazzem Hossain, OC of Sonagazi Model Police Station, was attached to the Armed Police Battalion (APBN) yesterday, said SM Jahangir Sarker, superintendent of police in Feni.
The withdrawal of the OC came after the victim's family alleged that they were not getting cooperation from him, said an official at the Police Headquarters, seeking anonymity.
Besides, the case filed over setting the girl afire has been transferred to the Police Bureau of Investigation.
Samajtantrik Mahila Forum, a left-leaning women's organisation, held a protest rally in the capital yesterday, demanding exemplary punishment to those involved in setting Nusrat on fire.
Leaders and activists of the platform also formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the afternoon, protesting the incident.
They also voiced grave concern over the reported increase in violence against women across the country, citing the “culture of impunity” as the main reason behind it.
In Feni, different social, human rights and non-governmental organisations formed a human chain at Shaheed Minar Chattar and submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Md Wahiduzzaman, seeking exemplary punishment to the culprits.