Narayanganj lawmaker Salim Osman has said he will never apologise for the public humiliation of Shyamal Kanti Bhakta, the school headmaster of a Narayanganj school who was made to do squats while holding his ears in public for allegedly making offending comments against Islam.
“I did not punish a teacher; I punished a man who insulted Islam. I will never apologise for that. Who am I going to apologise to? The man who insulted my Allah?” he exclaimed while addressing a press conference at Narayanganj Club Ltd auditorium on Thursday afternoon.
“However, I am sorry that people watched a video which gave them a wrong impression about me. I heard that a court has issued a ruling against me. If the court finds me guilty and hangs me, I will accept it because I have saved myself from hell's fire,” the Jatiya Party lawmaker told reporters.
Asked about the education minister's claim that there was no proof of Shyamal insulting Islam, Salim said: “I'm not mad, I have the proof that he made the derogatory comments. I will disclose it in due time.”
Salim further said if the court found him guilty, he would resign from his post as a lawmaker as well as all other responsibilities.
Asked about Shyamal's reinstatement in the position of headmaster at Piyar Sattar Latif High School, he said he had yet to receive any report in that regard.
Shyamal Kanti Bhakta was held captive for nearly six hours and physically assaulted by angry locals protesting at the school, in the district's Bandar upazila, on Friday after a rumour spread that he had mocked a student's religious beliefs after beating him in class.
Salim, who was informed about the situation, went to the school around 4pm and instructed the headmaster to publicly apologise for his “crimes” and made him do squats while holding his ears, as shown in a video clip.
While the allegations against Shyamal that he beat the student was confirmed by several witnesses, no one has yet confirmed the claims against him insulting Islam.
The headmaster was suspended from his post on Tuesday, but was reinstated only two days later.
The press conference was also attended by Liakat Hossain Khoka, member of parliament from Narayanganj 3 constituency, GM Faruk, vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (BKMEA), Liton Saha, president of Bangladesh Yarn Merchants' Association, Nazmul Alam Sajal, president of Bangladesh Hosiery Association, Manjurul Haque, senior vice-president of Narayanganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khokon Saha, secretary of Awami League Narayanganj unit, Anisur Rahman Miya, president of Narayanganj Lawyers' Association, and several others.
'Shyamal voluntarily held his ears'
Salim said he did what he had to do to save Shyamal from an angry mob.
“Locals entered the school and gave the headmaster a beating on Friday morning hearing that he had insulted Allah and Islam. Police rescued him and locked him inside a room while the angry mob kept protesting outside. As the situation deteriorated, locals called me around 12:30pm,” he said.
“When I arrived at the school around 4pm, the protesters told me: 'Leave the headmaster to us, we will teach him a lesson.'
“I asked the headmaster about what had happened, and he said: 'I don't know what I was thinking. I may have made some offending comments. I have three daughters, please save me.'
“Then I asked what he wanted to do to repent, and he volunteered to do squats while holding his ears. So I brought him out and in front of the protesting people and, to calm them down, told Shyamal to do the squats.
“At that time, I had no other choice but to do what I did. He had already been beaten severely before I arrived. I had no other way to save him,” Salim said.