• Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:30 am

Driver held after alleged assault of CU student on moving bus

  • Published at 12:29 pm April 13th, 2019
Chittagong map
Map of Chittagong Dhaka Tribune

She escaped by jumping off the running bus

A driver and his assistant have been alleged of assaulting a female student of Chittagong University (CU) on a moving bus, in Chittagong city.

The incident occurred after the victim, a first-year student from the CU Economics Department, got on the bus from Gate no 1, around 3pm on Thursday.

She had to escape by jumping off the moving bus.

After the victim posted a detailed Facebook post in connection with the incident Thursday night, it drew the attention of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP). Consequently, they contacted her. 

CU Vice-Chancellor Dr Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury also requested CMP Commissioner Mahabubur Rahman to identify those responsible and bring them to book.

On Friday, the victim lodged a case with Kotwali police station, accusing the driver and the helper under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.

Police arrested the driver, Biplob Debnath, 25, from Chittagong's Oxygen area, and seized the bus, in the early hours of Saturday, Md Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali police station, told Dhaka Tribune.

"We are also trying to nab the bus assistant," he added.

A harrowing incident

According to her Facebook post, the victim got inside the bus around 3pm, to travel to the New Market area, which was the last stop on that bus route. 

As the bus came near Riazuddin Bazar area, all the passengers got off the bus, and instead of going to New Market, it veered right and started going towards Station Road.

"I called out the conductor and told him to stop the bus immediately," she said in the post. "He rushed towards me and tied a scarf around my neck, so tightly, it became difficult for me to breathe…in that initial moment of shock, I could not even scream or shout to gather people."

In the scuffle, the victim hit the assistant with her mobile phone in an attempt to free herself. "I just hit the man with it so hard…maybe it hit his eyes, and he let go of my scarf."

It was at that moment she rushed to the door and jumped off the running bus. 

"The driver started shouting 'maiya ta re dhor shala' ['catch the girl']," she said. "It felt for a moment I was thrown out of the bus."

A rickshaw puller saw her jumping off the bus, and noticing her devastated state, took her back to her home. 

"I somehow managed to reach my mother," her post says. "I started crying."

Women rights activists demand security in public transports  

Women rights activists have demanded better security for female commuters using public transports in the port city.

On October 27, 2017, a girl was raped on a moving bus at Bahadderhat area in the city.

Expressing grave concern over the safety of female commuters in Chittagong city, veteran women rights activist, Jesmin Sultana Paru, said: "The law enforcers, and transport service providers, should consider this matter with utmost importance."

She continued: "Transport service providers should maintain a concrete database, with all relevant information of transport workers, including their photographs."

Authorities concerned should consider installing CCTV cameras in each and every public transport, Paru added.

"Sexual assaulters, and harassers, should be met with exemplary punishment, without delay," she said. "Otherwise, female commuters - particularly the garment workers - will remain afraid of leaving for their workplaces."

According to Chittagong Road Transport Owners' Group, there are approximately 1,500 buses and mini-buses in the city, with 7,000 transport workers.

Public transport a huge discomfort for female commuters

Consulting firm "e.Gen Consultants Ltd", while conducting a survey on different issues with Chittagong public transports - from October 2016 to July 2017 - asked as many as 616 women about the biggest challenges they face while traveling.

Among them, 60% said, the lack of reserved seating arrangements and comfort for women in public transports, remain a huge issue.

Nineteen-percent women said they were victims of harassment by other passengers, at one point or another; 4% said the drivers made them feel uncomfortable, and 6% said the drivers refused to allow them inside their vehicles.