The case follows the accusation of gang rape made earlier by the female NGO worker against BGB personnel at a BGB check-post in Teknaf
A defamation case for Tk100 crore has been filed on behalf of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) against a female NGO worker in Cox's Bazar.
The lawsuit, against Farzana Akhtar, 28, an employee of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), was filed in the court of Cox's Bazar Senior Judicial Magistrate Tamanna Farah on Tuesday.
The plaintiff of the case, on behalf of BGB, is Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) Naib Subedar Md Ali Mollah, in-charge of the Damdamia check-post of Teknaf BGB 2 Battalion.
In response, the court directed the officer-in-charge (OC) of Teknaf police station to submit a detailed report on the statements of the witnesses mentioned in the case statement within seven working days.
According to the case statement, the accused Farzana Akhtar severely tarnished the image of the BGB by springing up a false accusation of gang rape against its personnel.
BGB, in the case statement, said that it is a force that fought for the independence of the country in the Liberation War of 1971 and snatched victory and that an NGO worker bringing out false, unreasonable, and intentional allegations of “gang rape” against its members has severely tarnished its image.
BLAST still looking into the matter
Meanwhile, when contacted for comments, Barrister Sara Hossain, honorary director of BLAST, said: “We will be able to say more after we get the case statement.”
“But through media reports, we came to know that BGB claimed that one of our employees had raised rape allegations against them. She had made allegations of sexual harassment against BGB and demanded justice. She did not even file a case over the incident. Our investigation is ongoing.”
“We also – again through the media reports – learned that BGB’s image has been tarnished because of the issue. It is very unfortunate if true,” she said adding, “However, it does not seem logical as to how a complaint against one BGB official can defame the whole force,”
Criticizing BGB’s move of filing a defamation case against the female BLAST employee, she said: “A woman who raised concerns against abuse and for her safety should not have her character questioned. She also should not be intimidated by a colonial-era defamation law which has no place in a country where the government, at the highest levels, has affirmed its commitment to ensuring accountability for violence against women.”
“The rate of cases of violence against women being reported is already quite low in our country and using the criminal law in this way will only serve to intimidate and inhibit victims from raising their voices,” she opined.
BLAST on Wednesday, through a press statement issued over the incident, said: “We have earlier been informed of the allegations of alleged sexual abuse (not rape) at a BGB check post and have raised our concerns about the need to inquire into such allegations.”
“We believe that the concerned authorities at the highest level would wish to inquire into any such allegations and take necessary action and ensure protocols are in place for the security of all individuals at check posts following the law. We are ready to cooperate with any process in this regard,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts for comments, Mohammad Shariful Islam, public relations officer of BGB headquarters, could not be reached over the phone.
What happened that day
Earlier on October 8, Farzana Akhtar, an NGO worker in Hnila Union of Teknaf upazila, was headed to Sadar upazila in a CNG-powered taxi. As she along with four others were passing through the Damdamia BGB check post on Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Highway, their taxi was stopped for a routine search.
When everyone else was cooperating with the BGB, Farzana became offended for being stopped. She, identifying herself as an employee of BLAST, tried to avoid being searched. Out of suspicion, female BGB personnel arrived, and searched her against her will.
Outraged, Farzana accused the male members of the outpost of gang-raping her. However, after checking the outpost’s CCTV footage, the allegation was found to be false.
Moreover, a medical board headed by Shaheen Abdur Rahman, a resident doctor at Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital, examined her and found no evidence of rape. This was after Teknaf police station asked Farzana for a medical certificate when she wanted to file a rape case against BGB members.
This correspondent tried to get in touch with Farzana Akhtar for her comments in this regard but failed to reach her.