As people across the country took to the streets to vent anger over the murder of madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed law enforcers to bring the perpetrators to book.
"The prime minister directed the law enforcement agencies to expose the culprits who are involved in the killing of Nusrat and take punitive actions against them," the prime minister's press secretary Ihsanul Karim told BSS.
Expressing shock and sorrow, she prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.
After suffering for five days the excruciating pain of having 75 percent of her body burnt, the Alim examinee died of injuries Wednesday night at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
On April 6, with minutes to go before her exam was to start, she was taken to the roof of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa and set on fire for refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment case against the madrasa principal.
People of all walks of life joined in protest programmes across the country yesterday demanding justice .
Dhaka University students, under the banner of Bangladesh Sadharon Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, the platform of quota reformists, held a rally demanding actions against the perpetrators.
With placards like “We want justice”, “Why my sister was killed?” they brought out a procession from Raju Memorial that ended at the Central Shaheed Minar. They said a culture of impunity was causing recurrence of such incidents.
In the afternoon and evening, different groups formed human chains at Shahbagh, protesting the killing of the 18-year-old.
Students in Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, and Chittagong University also protested the killing of Nusrat.
In Chattogram, a group of students, under the banner of “Prothom Alo Bondhushova” held a protest rally at the university's Central Shaheed Minar around 12:30pm.
They demanded capital punishment for the criminals involved.
"Every day, we get news of rapes from different corners of the country. But how many of the culprits are being tried or punished?” asked Aklima Jannat, a student of communication and journalism department at CU.
They urged the government to enact strict laws for dealing with such perpetrators.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque thinks “the prevailing culture of impunity” was promoting brutality on women and children.
"People are now living in anxiety. We never know who will become a victim [of sexual harassment]."
Criminals are encouraged to be repeat offenders as there is no proper enforcement of law and people are not getting justice, he told reporters at the DMCH.
Lengthy investigation and trial process destroy evidence, he said demanding swift trial of the Nusrat murder case.
Praising the bravery and resilience of Nusrat, the NHRC chief said she did not yield to injustice and she was a paragon.
"I didn't see any guilt or regret in the accused principal's face,” he observed.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday said if necessary, the case filed over Nusrat's murder would be sent to a Speedy Trial Tribunal for quick disposal.
"I will instruct the prosecution to move the case fast so that it is settled quickly," he said, replying to a reporter at the home ministry.
The minister said investigation into the case was going on and once the probe was complete, a charge sheet would be placed before the court.
The government would then take necessary steps for its quick disposal, he said.
In similar tone, Home Minster Asaduzzaman Khan said no one involved in the murder would be spared.
"We will bring all of them [perpetrators] to book as the government has taken it very seriously,” he said.
PROTEST ALL AROUND
Since the news of her death broke in Sonagazi Wednesday night, many organisations and people staged demonstration in Feni town demanding punishment of the accused principal and other perpetrators.
Condemning the incident, CU Teachers Association (CUTA) in a statement yesterday evening demanded exemplary punishment of the criminals involved.
A group of students under the banner “Bangladesh Sadharon Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad” formed a human chain at Gate-2 in the port city demanding the same.
In Rajshahi, around 100 people formed a human chain in the city's Shaheb Bazar Zero Point and held a rally demanding the government take stern action and ensure justice.
A human chain was also formed at Rajshahi University demanding the same.
In Kurigram, around 100 people formed a human chain in Gabarmor area.
Condemning the heinous act, Manusher Jonno Foundation urged the government to set an example so that such an incident never recurs.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha, Sommilito Sangskritik Jote, and Samajtantrik Mohila Forum, in separate programmes demanded punishment of the culprits.
In its statement, Samajtantrik Mohila Forum said Nusrat's statements must be taken into account while punishments are meted out and there should not be any delays.
It criticised the government for their failure in providing safety to women.