South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB), a platform of 20 rights and development organisations, yesterday called for the cancellation of the National Human Rights Commission report that failed to find a correlation between the Subarnachar rape incident and the December 30 polls.

Terming the failure “mysterious” and “suicidal” for the commission, the forum also demanded that the commission’s chairman accepts the failure and makes an apology in this regard.

Meanwhile, Officer-in-Charge of Noakhali’s Char Jabbar Police Station Md Nizam Uddin has been withdrawn for “negligence in duty” over the rape incident, reports our district correspondent.

Elias Sharif, superintendent of police (SP) in Noakhali, said Nizam was withdrawn and attached to the district’s police lines on Tuesday night following the instruction of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Chattogram Range) Khandaker Golam Faruq.

The SP also said Shahed Uddin, who was serving as inspector (investigation) of Shudharam Model Police Station, was posted as officer-in-charge of Char Jabbar Police Station.

The victim, a housewife and mother of four, has been alleging that 10 to 12 accomplices of Ruhul Amin, a former member of Char Jubilee Union Parishad, raped her for voting for the “sheaf of paddy”, the electoral symbol of the BNP, in the wee hours of December 31.

Ruhul, who had been the publicity affairs secretary of Subarnachar Awami League, was sacked by the party following his arrest in connection with the police case filed over the incident.

However, an NHRC fact-finding committee did not find any link between the election and the gang rape.

Evidence of raping, severely beating the victim and inflicting grievous injuries on her has been found, read the report published on the NHRC website.

“However, no link between the beating and raping and the 11th parliamentary polls were found during investigation,” it said.

The incident took place as a sequel to previous enmity with the accused as cited in the statement of the case filed by the victim’s husband, it added.

In a statement yesterday, the HRFB said, “Such a report by the National Human Rights Commission has utterly surprised us.”

The victim’s statement in media reports and facts found by some of the HRFB members tell a different story of the incident, it said.

Ain o Salish Kendra, also a member organisation of the HRFB, has found that, alongside previous enmity, the election had a correlation with the rape incident, it added.

Another HRFB member organisation, Nijera Kori, learnt from the victim, her husband and locals that she was attacked on instruction of the accused as revenge for not voting for the “boat”, the Awami League’s electoral symbol, the statement further said.

After the police case was filed, the complainant, the victim’s husband, claimed to have told police that accomplices of Ruhul raped his wife as she voted for the “sheaf of paddy”.

Some of Ruhul’s accomplices had allegedly asked her to vote for “boat”. As she did not comply, an altercation ensued and they threatened her with “dire consequences”, he alleged.

The husband told The Daily Star on January 1 that police wrote the first information report (FIR) and asked him to sign it. “I am illiterate … I could not read what was written on it. I just signed it.”

“The [NHRC] report has failed to unearth the truth,” said the HRFB statement.

It urged the government to form a joint probe committee comprising civil society representatives and relevant institutions.

The forum also demanded action based on investigation against those who prepared and approved the report.

“It is imperative to ensure fair probe into the incident and justice, to prevent its [such incident’s] recurrence during polls,” said the statement.

Updated On: January 17, 2019