RAB arrests six including the imam in Narayanganj, while police nab another in Narail for raping another six-year-old
In a shocking incident, the imam of a mosque in Narayanganj has allegedly raped an eight-year-old girl inside the place of worship.
The appalling incident took place at the Baitul Hafez Jame Masjid situated in the Chanmari area under the Fatullah union on Tuesday morning, according to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
In 2019, the number of rapes across the country has seen a huge jump compared to last year. Between January and June this year, a total of 496 children were raped nationwide, while the number was 351 during the same period in 2018.
At July end, the number of child rape shot up to 613.
At least four more imams of mosques were also arrested for raping children in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chandpur and Brahmanbaria between May and July.
The child, a Class II madrasa student who was raped on Tuesday, was admitted to the Narayanganj 100-bed General Hospital later that day and is currently undergoing treatment there, under the protection of RAB 11.
A RAB official, requesting anonymity, said they were more or less sure that the imam had sexually violated the child, considering her physical condition, but could not make any official comment as the medical test reports were yet to come.
The hospital’s Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Asaduzzaman said they were waiting on the test reports too. “The child’s condition, however, is gradually improving.”
Based on the allegation of the child’s father, RAB on Wednesday morning arrested six people, including the imam, over the rape and an attempt to abduct and kill her afterwards.
Imam Fazlur Rahman, 45, and his accomplices Ramzan Ali, 49, Md Gias Uddin, 52, Habib-e-Elahi, 55, Md Motahar Hossain, 48, and Md Sharif Hossain, 45, were arrested from different areas in Fatullah, said RAB 11 Additional SP Md Alep Uddin.
The other five are also members of the mosque’s management committee, he said.
Alep said the child’s father also filed a case over the incident with the Fatullah police station later on Wednesday evening. “We will follow through with proper legal procedure against the arrestees.”
RAB sources said the victim’s father, covering himself a burqa, arrived at RAB 11 office around 10:30pm Tuesday and lodged a complaint, alleging that his daughter was raped by a local imam and hospitalized. He also alleged that the imam’s followers were also looking for him and his daughter to kill them.
RAB, after looking into the allegation, conducted separate drives and arrested the six men.
The rape and the murder attempt
RAB’s preliminary investigation and information divulged by the arrestees during primary interrogation have revealed that the victim’s father had taken the child to the imam several times over the past few weeks, to have her treated as she was having nightmares.
As the fake treatment was not working, Imam Fazlur on Monday evening asked the father to bring the child to him after the call to Fazr prayer on Tuesday morning.
When he did, Fazlur took them to his room on the mosque’s second floor and sent the father away to buy incense sticks and a candle around 5:30am.
Then Fazlur asked the muezzin to lock the mosque’s main door on the ground floor and raped the child after tying her hands and gagging her. Afterwards, he cleaned her up and threatened to kill her if she told her parents about the incident.
Soon after the father returned home with his daughter, the child’s physical condition started to deteriorate. After she told her parents about the rape, they went to the mosque and demanded justice from the mosque’s management committee.
However, some committee members and followers of the imam harassed the family there and tried to stop them from going to the police station and even the hospital.
The family later managed to admit the child to the hospital in secret. But Fazlur and his followers several times tried to abduct the child from the hospital in an attempt to kill her. The family somehow managed to avoid them by hiding in the hospital’s toilets or under beds for a long time.
The attempt to silence the victim and her family somewhat draws parallel to the murder of Feni’s madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi back in April.
Nusrat’s family had sued her madrasa principal for sexually harassing her in his office room on March 26. Ten days later, the Alim examinee was attacked by the then principal’s followers and asked to withdraw the case.
When she refused, they poured kerosene on her and set her on fire on the roof of the Sonagazi Islami Fazil (Degree) Madrasa. The 18-year-old succumbed to her burn injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10.
Another rape, another arrest
In Narail’s Lohagara upazila, another six-year-old girl was raped in the Pachuria village under the Mallikpur union around 12:30pm on Tuesday.
Police arrested the rape accused, Akram Sheikh, 55, after the child’s family and lodged a case at the Lohagara police station against him later that night, said the station’s OC Md Mokarram Hossain.
According to the child’s mother, Akram lured the child with some food and money to a garden beside a local school and raped her.
The child, who fell sick soon after the incident, was admitted to the Lohagara Upazila Health Complex on Tuesday evening after her family learned about the incident. She was later transferred to the Narail Sadar Hospital for better treatment.
Upazila Health Complex’s emergency department physician Dr Ripan Kumar Ghosh confirmed that there were wounds on the child’s genitals.
Sadar Hospital’s RMO Dr Moshiur Rahman, however, said they have conducted the reported rape victim’s medical tests and were waiting on the reports.
Additional reporting by Kamrul Hasan and Saiful Islam Tuhin, Narail