Tortured over trivial matters
Physical assaults on children continue across the country despite protests by child rights activists, laws against corporal punishment and a wide coverage against such torture in the mass media.
A video clip came to The Daily Star yesterday that shows a middle-aged man brutally beating up a child in broad daylight in front of a crowd, mostly children.
Digging into the incident, it was found that the victim, a 16-year-old boy named Md Minhaj, had consumed a bottle of cold drinks from a shop in Chittagong city's Patenga area but could not pay for it.
Consequently, shop owner Md Ishak, 40, made the boy pay the price by assaulting him.
According to locals, Minhaj, son of Saleh Ahmed of Borumchara area of Anwara upazila, came to visit his paternal aunt at Refinery Gate in Patenga. He went to Ishak's shop with one of his cousins around 4:30pm on Saturday.
He had a bottle of cold drinks worth Tk 16 at the shop but could not pay for it. Being furious, the shop owner started bullying him. At one stage, Minhaj ran away from the shop with Ishak chasing him.
During the chase, Ishak tripped and fell on the road. The fall made him further infuriated and as soon as he got hold of Minhaj, he started beating up the boy indiscriminately.
A local passer-by recorded the horrific scene in his cellphone and the clip soon spread in the locality.
The clip eventually landed at law enforcers' hands and they detained the accused on Sunday afternoon. A case was filed in this connection at 10:00am yesterday.
The video clip shows the shop owner kicking the boy repeatedly in the head. He was also hitting the boy's head with a shoe. But that much did not calm him down. He went on to tie up his prey with a rope and started beating him up again.
During the torture the boy was seen desperately trying to hold the brute's legs seeking pardon for the offense he had done.
He also called the abuser uncle and even father to evoke sympathy in him in vain.
The crowed that witnessed the scene comprised mostly children who dared not save the victim. After nearly 15 minutes, the accused left the scene.
Officer-in-Charge of Patenga police Alamgir Mahmud said the shop owner should have complained to the boy's guardian. Instead, he beat up the boy in a horrific manner, he added.
Two children have meanwhile been harshly beaten up by an elderly man for stealing litchis in Pirojpur Sadar upazila's Chitholiya village.
The victims are six-and-a-half-year-old Zayda, daughter of Shafikul Islam Kazi, and five-year-old Ferdaus Kazi, son of Badal Kazi, of Chitholiya village.
Zayda's mother Kulsum Begum said Zayda and Ferdaus along with some other children went to an adjacent litchi orchard owned by Miraz Khan and collected fallen litchis from the ground on Saturday afternoon.
After sometime, Miraz went to visit his orchard.
Sensing his presence, the children tried to run away, but Zayda and Ferdaus were left behind and were eventually caught by Miraz. He 'punished' the children by brutally beating them up with a stick.
Kulsum said the two children were trembling and crying when they returned home. They were very traumatised and had bruises all over their bodies. They were taken to Pirojpur Sadar Hospital in the afternoon and were admitted there.
"I found several beating marks on my son's back," said Mukta, Ferdaus' mother.
Dr Nani Gopal Roy, resident medical officer (RMO) of the hospital, said, "Ferdaus has come round and we have released him today [Monday]. But Zayda is still traumatised and has developed breathing problem. She will take more time to recover."
No serious injury was found on the children, he added.
Confessing to the beating, Miraz said, "After entering my orchard I found the children stealing litchis from my trees. So, I slapped them several times as I became angry."
Miraz however denied using a stick to beat up the children.
No case was filed in relation to the incident.
According to Ain O Salish Kendra, 43 children were subjected to physical torture in last three months, but only eight cases were filed.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum's (BSAF) statistics shows 30 children were physically tortured and seven children beaten to death in the corresponding time.
In 2015, 90 children were reported to have been subjected to physical torture.