Although five days have passed since two private university students made a formal complaint to police regarding their alleged rape at a birthday party on March 28, police have yet to make any arrests.
When questioned, police claimed they had been successful in identifying the accused, but were not forthcoming with details.
On May 6, the two young women filed a case with Banani police against Shafaat Ahmed, 26, Nayeem Ashraf, 30, Sadman Sakif, 24, and Billal, 26, for allegedly raping them on March 28 at Raintree Hotel in Banani after a birthday party.
Shafaat’s ex-wife, who is cousin to one of the victims, was also present when the case was being filed.
The Dhaka Tribune has since been able to ascertain that Shafaat Ahmed is the son of Dildar Ahmed, one of the owners of Apan Jewellers; Nayeem Ashraf is the managing director of eMakers Bangladesh; and Shadman Sakif is one of the directors of Regnum Group.
According to the two women, police are sure of the identities and whereabouts of all of the accused but have not arrested them because they are from influential families.
The two remain afraid for their safety, claiming that their alleged rapists have repeatedly threatened them over the phone to withdraw their case.
NHRC takes birthday rape case into own hands
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) hit out on Monday at the delay in the police investigation into the alleged rape of two university students at a birthday party in Dhaka six weeks ago, and formed a five-member committee to probe the claims itself.
Two university students filed a case with Banani police station on May 6 accusing four youths of raping them at the Raintree Hotel in the capital on March 28.
According to the case statement, Shafaat Ahmed, the 26-year-old son of one of the owners of Apan Jewellers, and his friend Nayeem Ashraf, 30, allegedly raped the two girls while Shafat’s bodyguard, Sadman Sakif, 24, held them at gunpoint and his driver Billal, 26, recorded the incident on his phone.
“The police delayed in taking the necessary actions against the perpetrators; they should be pro-active in arresting the accused,” NHRC Chief Kazi Reazul Hoque told the Dhaka Tribune. “Since that did not happen, we have been compelled to form the high profile probe committee.”
The committee, which includes three NHRC members, a director and an assistant director of the rights watchdog, has been tasked with investigating the incident and asked to submit their report within the next 15 days.
The Detective Branch (DB) is also currently looking into the birthday party rape case and has stated that the perpetrators will be brought under the law, “irrespective of how influential they are.”
On Monday, DB Deputy Commissioner (North) Sheikh Nazmul Alam said they were conducting a shadow investigation into the case and that the Banani police station was responsible for the regular investigation.
“If, in the course of our investigations, we find that the accused were involved in this matter, then they will be brought under the law,” he said.
When asked if the accused had fled the country, the DB officer said he was not sure but added that the law enforcers were looking for them.
On Sunday, the plaintiffs said they were afraid for their safety since the accused had repeatedly threatened them over the phone to withdraw the case.