Police under fire for forcing suspects to give confessional statements and extorting money from their families
Police are under fire for recording confessional statements from suspects accused of abducting, gang-raping, and killing a schoolgirl who recently was found in good health in Narayanganj.
This incident has raised a lot of speculations and concerns among the general people and begs the question: Will Bangladesh ever see an end to police brutality and abuse of power?
In a bid to find answers, police have formed two three-member probe bodies to look into the matter.
One of the probe committees is headed by ASP (DB) Jayed Parvej Chowdhury while the other is led by ASP (Crime) Mosharof, said Jayedul Islam, superintendent of police, Narayanganj, on Tuesday.
The schoolgirl's parents holding her photo | Dhaka Tribune
Police have also replaced the current investigation officer (IO) of the case, SI Shamim Hossain, with Sadar police station SI Abdul Hai for a fair investigation.
As it turns out, accused Abdullah, Rakib, and Khalilur confessed to crimes that they did not commit under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure while in police custody.
The families of the accused have alleged that the arrestees were tortured so much by the police officials of Sadar police station that they were forced to confess to crimes as serious as rape and murder.
They also claimed that they were forced to cough up at least Tk47,000 as bribes to SI Shamim Hossain to ensure the well-being of the suspects.
Also Read - Teenager raped, murdered in Narayanganj
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Abdullah’s father, Amjad Hossain said: “Police did so much to my innocent son. They beat him up so badly. At first, I gave Tk7,000 to SI Shamim as a bribe so that my son is tortured less during remand. Later, I bribed SI Shamim another Tk3,000 for the same purpose.
“The schoolgirl has returned home but I have lost my money and my son's future has also been ruined. I demand justice.”
Echoing the same, Md Sajib, Rakib’s elder brother, said: “I gave a total of Tk30,000 as bribe to SI Shamim.
“Today I heard that the girl, who was presumed to be dead, has returned home. Then why all the harassment against us? Then what were they [police] investigating for so long? What duty did they fulfil?”
The 3 accused: (from left to right) Rakib, Khalilur Majhi, and Abdullah | Dhaka Tribune
Also, Sharmin Akter, the wife of another accused Khalilur, said: “I gave total Tk7,000 to SI Shamim so that my husband isn’t tortured that much.
“Khalilur is sick. He repeatedly told them [police] that he is innocent. But no one listened. And now if something happens to him who will be held accountable?”
Confirming the return of the schoolgirl, Narayanganj Additional Superintendent of Police (Administration) Mostafizur Rahman, said: “The schoolgirl, after getting a call from Abdullah, went to meet with him on the evening of July 4.
“At one point the fifth-grader wanted to have some potato chips and told Abdullah to get some. Abdullah then did go but never returned. Later the schoolgirl contacted her former boyfriend Iqbal Pandit and left the Shitalakhya River’s number five ghat. Then the two took shelter at Iqbal's elder brother’s house in Matuail around 10pm that night.”
Earlier in the day, a revision was filed with the High Court that challenged the accuracy, legality, and rationality of proceedings of the case filed with Narayanganj Sadar model police station.
Supreme Court lawyer Advocate Mohammad Shishir Monir filed the revision on behalf of five other Supreme Court lawyers -- Md Asad Uddin, Md Zobaidur Rahman, Md Ashraful Islam, Md Al Reza Amir, and Md Misbah Uddin.
The revision also seeks directives from the High Court to the relevant offices, calling for the documents of the case to be submitted to it so that they may be examined, advocate Shishir confirmed to Dhaka Tribune.
The story behind the story
The fifth-grader, who was presumed dead, had gone missing on July 4, exactly one month and 20 days ago.
Following her disappearance, acting on a case filed by the girl’s father on August 6, police arrested the three suspects in connection with the reported abduction.
On August 9, the accused made confessional statements in the courts of Senior Judicial Magistrate Milton Hossain and Judicial Magistrate Ahmed Humayun Kabir.
The trio confessed that they had dumped the teenage girl's dead body in the Shitalakhya river after raping and murdering her.
In a surprising turn of events, on Sunday, Iqbal Pandit, the reported husband of the schoolgirl, called her family and informed them that she was alive and living with him.
Iqbal also asked for some money from the girl’s parents to pay his rent.
He, along with the schoolgirl, was detained shortly after.
After being questioned by the police, the girl said she had taken off with her then-boyfriend Iqbal Pandit to marry him and had remained absconding since then.
The prime suspect in the abduction case, Abdullah, with whom she was last seen on July 4, had, however, no knowledge of her intentions on the day, proving him innocent along with the two other suspects.
Earlier, following the arrests of the three suspects, SI Shamim claimed that the schoolgirl had been murdered and her body was dumped into the Shitalakhya River.
"We located Rakib [autorickshaw driver] after finding his number from the call list on the girl's mother’s phone. Abdullah used to contact the girl through Rakib's phone," he said.
The schoolgirl's reported husband Iqbal Pandit | Dhaka Tribune
“On the afternoon of July 4, the schoolgirl and Abdullah went on a tour in Rakib's autorickshaw to different parts of Bandar upazila. In the evening they hired a boat from the number five ghat of the dock and the girl was raped on the vessel by Abdullah and the boatman Khalilur.
“When the girl threatened the men that she would make a complaint regarding her rape, Abdullah and Khalilur strangled her to death and dumped her body in the Shitalakhya river around 9pm,” the SI further claimed.
Family happy to get their girl back
Meanwhile, the parents of the 15-year-old girl have expressed great relief and joy after getting their daughter back safe and sound.
Her mother said: “I got a call on Sunday noon. I was informed by a guy that my daughter is alive and well. I couldn't believe my ears. Then I talked with my daughter.
“I immediately informed the police regarding the matter. Then the two were rescued from the Nabiganj area.”
“The fact that I got back my daughter back alive is enough for me. We don’t want anything else.”
Her father said that they want to withdraw the case filed against Rakib, Abdullah, and Khalilur but are finding it difficult to do so due to legal complications.