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Dhaka Tribune

Tangail rape protest: Tension rises as another dies

Update : 20 Sep 2015, 05:18 PM

Bullet-hit Md Rubel succumbed to his injuries Sunday at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, two days after being shot by the police on Mymensingh-Tangail road during a protest, raising the death toll to four.

Rubel died around 7am, said DMCH police outpost In-Charge Mozammel Haque.

Three other protesters – Shamim, Faruk and Nitai Chandra – died on Friday in police firing when the several thousand villagers of Ghatail and Kalihati upazilas blocked the road demanding fair probe and quick trial into the rape of a woman in front of her son on September 15.

According to post mortem examination reports, they all died from bullet wounds.

Shamim died on the spot while Faruk succumbed to his injuries at Tangail Sadar Hospital. Critically injured Nitai died on the way to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Locals alleged that rapist Rafiqul Islam Roma, who is the brother of a local Awami League leader, had been trying to influence the investigation. He was arrested soon after the rape incident when the women and her son had been stripped off by the accused.

The rape victim filed a case the same day against Roma, his brother-in-law Hafiz and another person named Kazi with Kalihati police.

The Police Headquarters, local administration and district police have formed three committees to look into the background of the deaths and why the police had opened fire.

On Saturday, three sub-inspectors and four constables of Kalihati police were withdrawn in connection with the deaths, Deputy Inspector General (Dhaka Range) SM Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman said.

Two cases were also filed with Kalihati and Ghatail police stations in connection with the protest incident. Over 300 unidentified people were made accused in the case filed with Kalihati police while more than 400 sued in the other.

Families of the victims of police firing have not filed any case.

However, DIG Nuruzzaman on Sunday defended the police's excesses by issuing a warning against protesters.

At a meeting with Faridpur district police, he said: “Do whatever is needed to prevent those who are careless about the lives of the people and try to destroy government properties. Open fire, if needed. I will take responsibilities [for the consequences].”

His remarks have drawn fresh criticisms amid an outcry among the citizens and rights bodies to bringing to book the police officers responsible for the deaths of the protesters.

Locals said that the protest programme was organised by the people from Atharo Dana village in Ghatail. They used loudspeakers to gather people on Friday afternoon.

“We were demonstrating peacefully but police, without any provocation, interfered, beat up the protesters and open fire to free the road,” one of the protesters said seeking anonymity.

Harun-or-Rashid, former member of the Kalihati union council, told the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday that the local people got furious particularly after rumour spread that the police had taken bribe to release the alleged rapist.

CNG auto-rickshaw driver Saidur Rahman said that they vandalised vehicles on the road only after the police had opened fire on the protesters killing one on the spot.

“We demonstrated peacefully to protest the torture of a mother. We demanded that the accused are punished accordingly,” he told the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.

Rapist Rafiqul Islam Roma is the son of Mozaffar Hossain from Satutia under Kalihati upazila.

Locals say Roma’s wife got engaged in a relation with Al Amin, 17, and they eloped several months back. Later she was brought back. But she again went to Al Amin on September 12.

Later Roma’s family members asked his wife, Al Amin and his mother to go to their house for discussing the matter on September 15. Around 11am that day, Roma and his associates stripped off Al Amin and his mother, and tortured them. Roma also raped the woman after failing to get her raped by her son.

Local police went to the spot on information, rescued the duo and also arrested Roma.

Saidur said that the locals of Satutia village wanted to bring out a procession at Kalihati Bazar on Thursday but were barred by the elder brother of the rape accused, Minju, who is the general secretary of Kalihati municipality unit Awami League, and his men.

“Moreover, the local police took the side of the attackers and charged batons on the protesters,” a businessman of the area said asking not to be named. “It enraged the locals, for which they blocked the road the following day with a bigger procession.”

Md Mohsin, a mason from Atharodana village, thinks that the police acted wrongly. “We were protesting against something that never happened. They [police] were supposed to assist us and the rape victim.”

Several locals said that the Kalihati police chief, Md Shahidul Islam, had been an acquaintance of Roma's brother. He used to reside in the house owned by Minju until Friday afternoon.

His neighbours said that the OC had moved his belongings from the house after the deaths of protesters.

When contacted over the phone, OC Shahidul refused to make any comment claiming that he had been busy with some senior police officers.

Roma's house at Satutia village was found under lock and key on Sunday.

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