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Dhaka Tribune

Weightlifting federation in turmoil after rape accusation

The committee will submit a report following a proper investigation to the general secretary of the federation in 15 days

Update : 27 Nov 2018, 02:03 PM

The National Sports Council and Bangladesh Weightlifting Federation have formed separate probe committees to investigate the allegation that a male weightlifter-cum-BWF’s part-time office assistant harassed and raped a fellow young female weightlifter.

NSC secretary Masud Karim informed that NSC’s three-member committee headed by Mohammad Billal Hossain, director, administration, was formed yesterday and gave show-cause letter with three-day frame to one of the alleged assistants, a NSC office staff. 

The NSC assistant director Syeda Taslima Akter and administration official Niazul Hasan Khan are the other two members of the committee.

The BWF’s three-member committee was formed Sunday, the same day a female weightlifter’s uncle submitted an official complaint to the federation, but the committee, led by federation’s vice-president Atikuzzaman Chowdhury began their investigation procedure yesterday. 

Syed Hasan Imam and Mujibur Rahman are the other members of that committee.

Both the committees were given 15 working days to complete their investigation and submit a report to the respective authorities. 

In the meantime, the BWF has banned the accused male weightlifter from all sorts of activities with the federation.

Meanwhile, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a non-government legal aid and human rights organis-sation, stepped forward to provide legal assistant to the victim, who is admitted at National Institute of Mental Health due to the trauma she is undergoing following the harrowing ordeal. 

ASK representatives visited the hospital to see the victim yesterday.

Neither the victim nor the accuser are well known weightlifters, and both came from low-income families. 

The victim won gold in the junior category in the 10th Women’s National Club Championship in 2015 and the male weightlifter’s only achievement was finishing second in the 15th Junior National Weightlifting Competition in 2014.

According to the complaints put up by the victim’s relatives, the male weightlifter raped the female weightlifter in one of the rooms of NSC Tower on September 13, a day before the start of the 3rd Inter-Service Weightlifting Championship 2018. 

The victim received threats and was asked not to come to the federation since then. 

Fearing the social consequences, the hapless victim even proposed a marriage between them but the alleged rather demanded Tk7 lakhs for agreement.  

According to the reports, the victim disclosed the matter to her family on October 9 and according to an initial written statement she lost her sanity the same day. 

The circumstances led the family to get the victim admitted at NIMH Friday. 

According to the documents of complaints provided by the federation yesterday, the initial hand-written complaint letter of the victim’s maternal uncle dated Saturday, without any signature, mentioned two other names being involved in assisting the male weightlifter. 

One of them is a well-known female weightlifter while the other is a NSC staff. 

However, the female weightlifter’s name was changed to another less-known female weightlifter in the official complaint letter submitted the following day. 

The victim’s uncle explained to Dhaka Tribune that it was a mistake. 

Dhaka Tribune got the copy of both the letters.

It has now become the most-discussed topic in the capital’s weightlifting circle. 

The accused male weightlifter has been training and working as the federation’s office assistant in the last few years. 

Former national weightlifter Shahria Sultana Shuchi, who has been working as a weightlifting coach in the NSC since 2006, was found at the federation room yesterday afternoon. 

Shuchi informed that she trained both the young weightlifters only once in 2015. 

Demanding proper investigation, she added, “If the female coaches are given the chance to train the female weightlifters, such harassments on female athletes could be reduced.”

President of the BWF’s probe committee, Atikuzzaman was also at the same room along with BWF vice-president Mahiuddin Ahmed. 

When asked why there is no name outside the federation officials in the committee, Atikuzzaman replied, “We started the procedure for a proper investigation. There is no chance for partiality but still it would be good if we had right person in the committee outside the federation.”

Mahiuddin pointed out some of the dissimilarities between the accuser’s verbal complaints and the written statement questioning the female weightlifter’s mental condition. 

He was earlier alleged for bringing in the accused weightlifter to the federation first but Mahiuddin denied the claim and rather mentioned another name. 

He too demanded proper justice.

The accused weightlifter however, fled away. 

Three of his contact numbers were found switched off despite repeated attempts throughout the day.

Secretary of NSC Mohammad Masud Karim told Dhaka Tribune over the phone, “We have taken the case seriously. The weightlifting federation formed a committee but we also formed a probe committee of our own to investigate the matter properly. If the allegation is found to be true then we will take exemplary and legal actions against everyone involved.”

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