The brutal killing of Nusrat Jahan Rafi could have been avoided had the local administration and the madrasa governing body taken necessary steps in time, National Human Rights Commission said in its probe report yesterday.
Revealing the negligence of different authorities concerned, the report also recommended bringing all those responsible to justice within the shortest possible time.
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque presented the report at a press conference at the commission’s headquarters in the capital.
“Nusrat, in a letter, pledged to fight until death to ensure punishment of Siraj Ud Dowla. If all the culprits get due punishment, Nusrat’s soul will rest in peace,” he said.
AL-Mahmud Faizul Kabir, director (complaints and inquiry) of NHRC, and M Rabiul Islam, its deputy director, prepared the report upon interviewing Nusrat’s family members, friends, madrasa authorities, police administration and others during a spot visit on April 12.
The probe found that the managing committee of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa had appointed Siraj Ud Dowla as the principal without scrutinising the complaints of sexual harassment against him in the institution he served previously.
“Siraj sexually harassed Nusrat in his office on March 27, and ordered by him, his followers set Nusrat on fire pouring kerosene on her on April 6,” said the report.
An Alim examinee, Nusrat had to face the heinous attack allegedly for refusing to withdraw the sexual harassment case against Siraj. Suffering about 75 percent burns, she lost her battle for life at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch has said the government should “thoroughly investigate” the murder of Nusrat and fairly prosecute all those responsible for the incident, reports UNB.
“The horrifying murder of a brave woman who sought justice shows how badly the Bangladesh government has failed victims of sexual assault,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of HRW.
“Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s death highlights the need for the Bangladesh government to take survivors of sexual assault seriously and ensure that they can safely seek a legal remedy and be protected from retaliation.”
IMPUNITY HE ENJOYED
The NHRC report said Siraj sexually harassed several other students in his office room before he was sued by Nusrat over sexual assault last month.
“It has been known that several female students and their guardians complained to the upazila nirbahi officer, additional district magistrate, madrasa governing body and the police station at different times. But neither the local administration nor the madrasa governing body took any action.”
Siraj used to maintain close links with local administration and influential leaders of different political parties, the report added.
It also criticised the role of Moazzem Hossain, the then officer-in-charge of Sonagazi Police Station, who filmed Nusrat while she was giving her statement following the harassment by Siraj on March 27.
Moazzem asked Nusrat different “indecent questions”, tried to trivialise the matter and published the clip on social media, the probe body said.
“The OC of Sonagazi Police Station in Feni has proved his irresponsibility and this was violation of Digital Security Act 2018.”
Kazi Reazul Hoque said, “The police officer committed a crime by questioning the victim repeatedly. We want to see that all those responsible are meted out exemplary punishment so all get a message that nobody is above the law.”
Referring to Nusrat’s dying declaration and other documents, NHRC chairman said, “All necessary evidence is there. We hope the Police Bureau of Investigation will submit its report and the court will give a verdict within the shortest possible time.”
ONE MORE ARRESTED
Meanwhile, the PBI arrested another suspect in the murder case from Tulatoli area of Sonagazi upazila on Monday night.
The arrestee, Md Shamim, 19, is a classmate of Nusrat, said PBI Inspector Shah Alam.
Shamim’s link to the murder came up in the confessional statements of two accused -- Nuruddin and Shahadat Hossain Shamim -- recorded by a Feni court on Sunday.
Md Shamim and another youth named Shakil took position under the cyclone shelter, now being used as the madrasa’s administrative building, when Nusrat was being set on fire on the rooftop of the building.
A Feni court yesterday ordered sending Shamim to jail after police produced him before the court.
With this, police have so far arrested 14 people in connection with the Nusrat murder.