Amid growing concerns among human rights organisations in Bangladesh and abroad over extrajudicial killings by law enforcers, some MPs have demanded in parliament that rape suspects be killed in so-called crossfire.
Tofail Ahmed, a senior leader of the ruling Awami League, backed the demand when opposition Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu raised it on Tuesday in the wake of a rise in the spate of incidents of sexual violence against women.
Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary of Tarikat Federation, an ally of the Awami League, said there will be “no problem” in getting a ticket to heaven even after killing a rapist in crossfire.
“We won’t be able to answer the nation if we don’t tackle the issue with importance,” Chunnu said, referring to a police report that the highest number rape incidents in past few years was reported in 2019.
Confusion was created among the people even after the government acted swiftly over the rape of a Dhaka University student recently, the former state minister said, and noted incidents of murder after rape took place in Dhamrai and Savar afterwards.
“I don’t know why not a single person died in gunfight after a heinous crime like rape taking place while so many have been killed in crossfire in anti-drug drives,” Chunnu said, addressing Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
“I ask that the government take this issue seriously. Otherwise it will spin out of control,” Chunnu, a former judge, said, apparently in support of killing of rape suspects without any trial in a judicial procedure.
He also urged the media to give same priority to news of verdicts sentencing rapists like they do to report rape incidents.
Another Jatiya Party leader, Kazi Firoz Rashid MP, had raised the same demand for killing rape suspects in “gunfights” with the law enforcers in April, 2018 after murder-rape incidents on moving buses.
“’Two RAB members injured, rapist killed’ – people want to see this,” Rashid had said.
On Tuesday, Rashid seconded Chunnu’s demand, saying that the incidents of murder-rape on moving buses would not have taken place had the five suspects in the first incident been shot dead.
Lengthy trials were frustrating the people and encouraging sexual assault, he argued.
“The people don’t remember any incident when a verdict is delivered after 15 to 20 years,” he said.
He noted that it took around two decades to try and hang the rapist and murderer of Shazneen Tasnim Rahman, the youngest daughter of industrialist Latifur Rahman, the chairman of Transcom.
He doubted whether the police will be able to prove the charges against the suspect in a case over the recent rape and murder of a factory worker in Dhamrai as there is no witness. “And no one will inquire about it once a year passes by in trial,” he said.
“Then what should be done?” he asked.
“Encounter [a term used for ‘crossfire’] is a must if you want to free the society from rape. He [rapist] must be shot dead,” Rahsid said, slamming the human rights organisations for speaking out against extrajudicial killings.
“No law will be required. Police have their own law. Drug suspects were killed the day before yesterday, but under what law?” the lawmaker asked.
“I want to give the law enforcers a clear message from here so that no rapist can gather the courage.”
Referring to the suspected rapist of a Dhaka University student, Rashid said, “He is with the police now. Take him to the university in the name of interrogation and shoot him dead there. Let the people see his body lying there.”
Tofail, a member of the ruling party’s presidium, referred to the recent deaths of rape suspects in India following widespread protests.
“No incident like that happened in India again. I agree with Firoz. Of course there are laws. But still a man raped a 6-year-old girl in Wari. We also have grandchildren. It can’t continue,” he said.
“We need to toughen the law. And the person who is certainly identified to have done it [rape] has no right to live in this world,” Tofail added.
Tarikat chief Maizvandary then said he agreed with Chunnu and Rashid.
“I, wearing topi and beard, and with Allah as the [observer], tell you that you will still go to heaven after killing them [rapists] in crossfire. There will be no problem,” he said.
Updated On: 15 Jan 2020