Man placed on 5-day remand over rape, robbery on bus in Tangail

Passenger describes hours-long ordeal

A Tangail court on Thursday placed a man on a five-day remand over the recent gang rape of a woman  and robbery on a bus in the district’s Madhupur area.

The accused, Raja Mia, 32, hailing from Kalihati upazila of the district, was once a driver of Jhatika Paribahan on the Dhaka-Tangail route.

Senior Judicial Magistrate Badal Kumar Chandra passed the remand order after the Detective Branch of the police presented him in the court asking for seven days’ remand.

Meanwhile, the rape survivor gave a statement in court under Section 22. 

Court Inspector Tanveer Ahmed confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.

Earlier in the day, the DB arrested Raja Mia in the Deola area of the district. Three mobile phones were seized from his possession at the time.

Superintendent of Police Sarker Mohammad Kaiser said Raja had given a confessional statement but denied raping the woman.

The rape survivor, a garment worker, got her health checked up at Tangail General Hospital.

Hospital gynaecologist Dr Rehena Parveen, who conducted the tests, said there were injury marks on her body.

How it happened

Late on Tuesday night, Raja, along with his accomplices, boarded a Chittagong-bound bus of Eagle Paribahan masquerading as passengers and soon took control of the vehicle.

They snatched money, mobile phones and other valuables from passengers of the bus. They also raped a female passenger of the bus and dumped her in a roadside ditch.

At around 3am on Wednesday, the group drove the bus into a sand pile opposite Roktipara Jamme Mosque in Madhupur and fled the area.

Hekmat Ali, a passenger of the bus, filed a case at Madhupur police station accusing 10 to 12 unknown persons over the incident.

He said: “Four passengers got on the bus at about midnight. They were wearing masks and one of them had a bag with him. The four sat on the rear seats and were constantly typing on their phones.

“After around 15 minutes, five more passengers boarded the bus, followed by two more. They insisted the driver stop the bus. As the driver refused, they beat him up and one of them got on the driver’s seat.” 

Hekmat continued: “Before we could understand anything, 10 of them stood next to the passengers’ seats. Some of them tore pieces of the bus curtains to tie up the men. One of the women was tied, while the others were not. They closed all the windows and dimmed the lights, and snatched money, mobile phones and jewelleries from the passengers.”

Rape crisis

Rape is a highly prevalent crime and it has occurred in the past on public transports in Tangail.

On August 25, 2017, college student Jakia Sultana Rupa was gang-raped on a moving bus of Chhoa Paribahan and murdered while travelling to Mymensingh from Bogra. 

A murder case was filed at Modhupur police station accusing five people the next day. The police arrested bus driver Habibur, supervisor Safar Ali, and assistants Shamim, Akram and Jahangir two days later.

On February 12, 2018, a Tangail court handed down the death penalty to Habibur and his assistants. The supervisor of the bus Sabar Ali alias Gendu was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In a similar incident on April 1, 2016, a garment worker was raped by the driver and helper of a bus of Binimoy Paribahan.

According to the case details, the woman, who worked at a garment factory in Chandra, Gazipur was raped on the bus in Tangail’s Dhanbari area.

After they took turns violating the woman, they fled the area dumping her in a remote spot on the Tangail-Mymensingh highway in Madhupur.

Police arrested the driver, one of his assistants and the supervisor that day after the rape survivor’s husband filed a case against nine people at Tangail model police station.

The court sentenced four of the accused to life imprisonment and fined each of the convicts Tk1 lakh.

In another incident on August 30, 2018, a mentally challenged girl was gang-raped on a moving bus on the Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Highway.

Bangabandhu Bridge East police station OC Mosharraf Hossain at the time said the bus was leaving Tangail for the Bangabandhu Bridge East bus stand at 12:30am. As it was night, there were no passengers onboard except the girl. Taking advantage of the situation, the driver, supervisor and assistant raped her. 

After hearing the screams of the victim, policemen patrolling the highway followed the bus to Bangabandhu Bridge and detained the assistant. However, the driver and supervisor managed to flee the area. Police were able to arrest the two others later.

Gorai highway police OC Molla Tutul said highway police had strengthened their work to prevent robberies on the highways. “Patrols have been increased. Vehicles are checked at various places. Passengers are also asked if there is any problem.”

“However, sometimes the situation inside the bus cannot be understood from the outside,” he added.

The president of the Tangail unit of the NGO Shujan, Khan Md Khaled, said: “Highway police need to be more alert and responsible. In most cases, the rapist does not get punished. Social unrest and drug addiction have increased the tendency of such crimes.”