The two Marma sisters, one of whom was allegedly raped and the other sexually assaulted by members of security forces last month, were handed over to their parents at Rangamati Sadar Hospital yesterday in presence of police.
The family members, however, went traceless after they left the hospital. Their whereabouts were unknown till 11:30pm, according to their friends and police.
Ruhul Amin Siddiqi, additional superintendent of police (Rangamati Sadar), said, “We handed over the girls to their parents in the evening… We however don't know where they are now, or where they have been taken.”
With a court order, the parents, accompanied by some police members, went to the hospital yesterday afternoon and demanded the custody of the girls. The sisters, however, refused to go with them, according to witnesses.
At one stage, the girls had an altercation with the parents and the police members, who kept on insisting that the court order had to be followed. The altercation lasted for a long time inside the women and children's ward and the girls finally had to go, said witnesses.
The Marma sisters -- aged 18 and 13 -- were admitted to the hospital on January 22. Earlier in the day, the elder one was allegedly raped while the other sexually assaulted during a drive by a team of security forces in their village, Bilaicchari.
Following a writ petition, a High Court bench on February 13 ordered the authorities concerned of the government and Rangamati Sadar Hospital to hand over the girls to their father. The petition was filed by the girls' father.
The court also issued a rule asking the authorities to explain why the “confinement” of the girls should not be declared illegal, BM Elias Kachi, lawyer for the girls' father, told The Daily Star.
He also said the HC passed the order on the grounds that the father of the Marma girls was their legal guardian and he deserved their custody.
Meanwhile, a petition was filed with the Supreme Court yesterday seeking a stay on the HC order.
Rights activist Sultana Kamal submitted the petition, where she claimed that the girls wanted to go under the custody of Chakma Circle Chief Raja Debashish Roy, who would ensure their security.
The elder sister has recently sent a letter to the civil surgeon of Rangamati to this end and a writ petition over this issue has been pending with the High Court, Sultana said in the petition.
Chamber judge of the Appellate Division of the SC Justice Hasan Foez Siddique fixed February 18 for hearing the petition.
The parents of the girls went to the hospital yesterday afternoon.
Susmita Chakma, one of the lawyers for the girls, however, alleged that they were not allowed in the hospital.
“I went to the spot around 2:30pm. The door of the room where the girls were kept was locked and the police asked us not to enter,” she said while talking to this correspondent over phone.
Around 3:30pm, a few volunteers, who had been giving the two sisters company day and night, were forced out of the room.
Around the time, Yan Yan, the queen of the Chakma circle, went live on Facebook from inside the hospital. In that blurry video the two Marma girls and their parents were seen exchanging heated arguments mostly in Marma language. At one point, Yan Yan cried out, “You cannot intimidate and take the girls away like this!” Then a phone rang, and the video ended abruptly.
One of the witnesses translated parts of the conversation to this correspondent. The witness quoted the father as saying, “We have been with them since this incident happened. If you don't come with us, we cannot go home.”
It was not clear who the man was referring to.
According to the witness, the father of the girls also said, “We are poor people. How long can we stay without having any earnings?”
In reply, one of the girls said they did not want to go with them as they were not sure what would happen to them in future.
This was the third time the parents went to the hospital to take the girls with them, Yan Yan told this correspondent from the scene later.
“On the previous occasions, they [the parents] were accompanied by people in plainclothes. But this time, they have a court order in their favour,” she said.
After the parents took the girls with them, the queen of the Chakma circle was not being traced for some time. Her family members and well-wishers tried hard but failed to contact her.
She was found inside the hospital later around 9:30pm.
Talking to this correspondent, Yan Yan alleged that she was assaulted and hit on the head inside the hospital.
“Both of us [the queen and one of her companions] were beaten, kicked in the belly and thrown to the ground,” she said.
Details of the alleged assault were not available immediately.
Asked about the allegation that police did not allow many to go inside the hospital yesterday, Siddiki said, “We did not use force against anyone. Whether the girls would leave with their parents was up to them, but there is a court order in this regard.”