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DU Student Rape: 48-hour ultimatum to arrest culprit as protests sparked in Dhaka

  • Published at 01:52 pm January 6th, 2020

They had blocked the Shahbagh intersection for about two hours demanding justice

Protests sparked across the capital on Monday over the rape of a Dhaka University (DU) student, with protesters taking to the streets demanding arrest of the culprit within 48 hours. Students marched down or occupied some key roads of the city to demand punishment to the rapist.

Over a thousand students held sit-in protests across the DU campus, and blocked a major highway in the capital, chanting slogans and raising placards against rape, and demanding justice for the victim.

With slogans and placards reading, “No more rape, we want justice” and “We want exemplary punishment,” the protesting students issued a 48-hour ultimatum.

Or else, they threatened of a tougher movement. 

The rape victim, a second year student, was violated by unidentified assailant(s) at secluded place in the city’s Kurmitola area on Sunday evening. She left the campus on board a university bus and headed for her friend's house at Khilkhet's Shewra neighbourhood.

On her way, she by mistake got off at Kurmitola around 7pm, her friends and teachers told reporters after she was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) around midnight on Sunday. 

Students of Dhaka University erupt in protest demanding swift justice for the rape victim and tougher vigilance of such crimes on Monday, January 6, 2020 | Rajib Dhar/Dhaka TribuneAs the news spread, fellow students started protests in Dhaka on Monday morning. 

Santrash Birodhi Chhatra Oikya, an alliance of 12 student bodies, blocked Shahbagh intersection for about one hour on Monday, and demonstrated.

Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu) Vice President Nurul Haque Nur, who was among the protesters, said: "We have withdrawn our blockade around 1:30pm, and still demanded to see immediate arrest of the rapist within 48 hours."

Meanwhile, hundreds of student activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League formed a human chain in front of Raju Sculpture around 10:45am demanding arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.  

Meanwhile, Sifatul Islam, a student of Philosophy Department at Dhaka Univesrity, first started a fast-unto-death protest in front of the Raju sculpture over the incident.

Dhaka University students block the busy Airport Road in Kurmitola area on January 6, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

Later, Ducsu member Saiful Islam Rasel and another DU student Mostafizur Rahman joined the hunger strike. 

A group of Jatiatabadi Chhatra Dal leaders and activists also held protest events at the base of Aparajeyo Bangla on the campus till 12noon.

As the protest rages across the university campus, a group of DU students blocked the Dhaka-Mymenshingh Highway at Kurmitola around 3.30pm after forming a human chain in the area. The blockade was later withdrawn at 4.08pm.

Joining the protests, DU students Raisul Islam said that the crime scene was a protected area and questioned:  "But how come, such a horrific incident (rape) had occurred there"?

Dhaka University Teachers' Association, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, and Hill Women's Federation and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), condemned the incident and demanded justice for the victim.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal at a program in Dhaka said law enforcement agencies were investigating into the matter to identify the culprits. "We will bring out the perpetrators and place them under speedy trial soon," he reiterated. 

How the horrific incident occurred?

Upon admission at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) around 12 midnight on Sunday, the victim told doctors and her attendants that she was going to her friends’ house in Shewra area for study ahead of their exams. 

Mistakenly, she got off the Tongi bound DU bus (down trip of 5.30pm) on the opposite side of Hotel Blu Radisson, not far from her intended destination Shewra. She started taking the footpath by herself, and unfortunately ended up at the hands of the rapist in between 7 and 7:30pm. 

"He gagged me from the back and forced me into a dark secluded place, and swooped on me mercilessly," she was quoted as saying.

"He finally forced himself on me."

Santrash Birodhi Chhatra Oikya block Shahbagh intersection, demanding capital punishment for the culprit behind the rape of a DU student, on Monday, January 6, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

At one stage, she lost her consciousness as the rapist kept beating her even after the rape. The man also took her cell phone and wallet. 

After regaining consciousness around 10pm, the victim noticed the rapist was still roaming around the crime scene. Nevertheless, she managed to flee the scene, dodging the culprit, said the sources, who talked to her. 

Finally, she hired a CNG-run auto-rickshaw and reached her friends’ house in about 30 minutes, who paid the fare and called an ambulance to take her to DMCH around 11:45pm. 

After her primary treatment at DMCH’s gynecology unit, she was shifted to the hospital’s One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) at around 1am, said Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of DMCH police outpost.

Rape is confirmed as victim left traumatized

The evidence of rape was found in a primary examination, confirmed DMC forensic department head, Sohel Mahmud, adding, that she was strangulated as the victim's throat wore injury marks.

"We’ve found several scratch marks on her neck, body and below her feet, implying that she had tried to resist the rapist. DNA samples have been sent for re-examination to confirm the number of perpetrators (if any)," he said.

DMCH Director Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin said a seven-member medical board, headed by Gynecology Prof Salma Rouf, was formed for her better treatment.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Deputy Commissioner Sudeep Kumar said they have found that it was a single individual in the rape incident, based on talks with victim and her family.

However, Dr Bilkis Begum, chief of the OCC, claimed that the girl could not remember the entire incident to confirm whether it was one or more perpetrators involved in the incident.

Her belongings found on the ground

The girl was raped at the last boundary side bushes of the Golf Club in-front of Kurmitola General Hospital. During a visit on Monday, police and our correspondents found an inhaler, notebooks, lecture sheets, and key rings, among many other things strewn in the bushes. 

A pair of shoes and jeans were also found, said DMP's Sudeep Kumar Chakraborty.

"Although there are footpaths, the crime scene is a little isolated and full of thick bushes, from where evidence was collected,” he said.

During a visit, our correspondent saw a billboard around 10 feet away from the spot which is full of lamp posts and frequented by pedestrians.

Legal proceedings

The victim’s father lodged a case with the Cantonment police station in Dhaka against an individual while the DU authorities filed a complaint with Shahbagh police station, said DU Proctor AKM Golam Rabbani, pledging all kinds of support for the victim.

Shahbagh police OC Abul Hasan said they forwarded the complaint to the respective (Cantonment) police station while his Cantonment police counterpart Kazi Sahan Haque said they started investigation. 

About four women were raped daily in the country in 2019 as 1413 rapes and gang-rapes were recorded across Bangladesh, according to ASK.