MNA Editorial Desk: Yet another battle was lost a few days ago when a bright prospecting life of an Alim examinee Nusrat Jahan Rafi died on April 10 after she was set ablaze on April 6 due to making a complaint of rape against the principal of her madrasa at Sonagazi of Feni district. She lodged the complaint few days back after getting brutally raped by Siraj Ud Dowla, the madrasa principal and was getting continuous threats to lift the case. But as a brave soul, she denied to do so and even pledged to fight until death to ensure punishment of Siraj Ud Dowla in a letter.
It is questionable if the law enforcers acted properly and timely which could have demoralize the criminals but sadly, she was set afire brutally at the rooftop of that madrasa by few other students loyal to that principal and the local authority. She was critically admitted at the hospital and lost the battle with over 80 per cent of body burnt after four painful days of fight.
We are all shatters, newspapers and television channels are flooded with her news and demand for her justice. But one thing for sure that such brutal acts will again happen in the future.
The brutal killing of Nusrat Jahan Rafi could have been avoided if the local administration and the madrasa governing body had taken necessary timely steps according to a report of the National Human Rights Commission. Revealing the negligence of different authorities concerned, the report also recommended bringing all those responsible to justice within the shortest possible time. All top officials and most importantly, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also instructed for quick justice to be delivered to ill-fated Nusrat. But regretfully we cannot expect justice even after that as our past experience does not suggest doing so.
Siraj sexually harassed several other students in his office room before he was sued by Nusrat over sexual assault last month. Several female students and their guardians complained to the upazila nirbahi officer, additional district magistrate, madrasa governing body and the police at different times. But neither the local administration nor the madrasa governing body took any action. Siraj used to maintain close links with local administration and influential leaders of different political parties, which was evident from the list of people involved in covering his heinous crimes.
The role of Moazzem Hossain, the then officer-in-charge of Sonagazi Police Station, who filmed Nusrat while she was giving her statement following the harassment by Siraj on March 27, can be termed as another rape. He asked Nusrat many indecent questions, tried to underestimate the matter and published the clip on social media, may be to break down the mental strength of the victim. It was irresponsible and a violation of Digital Security Act 2018.
An educational institution is the holiest place for students. It is considered as a safe haven for students as it is a trusted space for learning and sharing knowledge. But what we have been witnessing recently in the country makes us question as to how safe educational institutions are for students.
The murder of Nusrat is the latest example of the lack of safety of students in educational institutions, especially girls. What is so shocking is that it was the head of the madrasa who is allegedly responsible for her death. If these sorts of incidents continue to happen, teachers will eventually lose the trust and respect of students in educational institutions as such occurrences will is still fear among all.
We all were shocked after listening the Sonagazi incident of the burning Nusrat by local gang. But remorsefully, our feeling does not last long since many such incidents took place in our country in the last two decades. We all got vocal as the victim was a madrasa principal, who was supposed to be a religious man and we are even blasting our anger against the religious practices through social and mass media.
But a criminal has no religion. Christian religious leaders termed as ‘fathers’ are often reported to be involved in sexual crimes. Hindu religious leaders are also often found guilty of such crimes as we cannot forget Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was jailed for heinous crimes. But these acts are not lameness of the religions as no religion instructs to commit such crimes. It is the demon inside man which is getting fiercer day by day and position and power can just add fuel to the fire while they commit crimes as was in the case of Siraj.
Siraj cannot be any different from Parimal Joydhar, a teacher of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, who was sentenced to rigorous life-term imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl at his coaching centre in 2011. Many students from general schools and madrasas are getting raped every day. Most of these rapes are not reported especially due to the fear of our law enforcement agencies that have successfully placed themselves as the greatest barrier to justice.
The rape victims’ sufferings start to multiply at the police stations. Thankfully the demeaning ‘two-finger’ test was eliminated by the court. The inefficiency of the one-stop crisis centre, the ignorance of the victims and their family members, corruption of the law enforcers and all relevant authorities and the ineffectiveness of the justice system has promoted crimes like rape in our country.
Among 100 rape cases during the last two decade 90 was not served justice. We cannot forget the murder of Tonu, for which huge protests were conducted but yet justice is to be served. People all over the country were calling for justice for Tonu. People all over the country were showing their outrage, through social media, street protests. But at last, there was no rapist found. Still now, the possibility of justice is blurred. We cannot forget the rape of Yasmin, Khadija, many other women and especially children.
A girl who was only 5 years old, was raped and her delicate private organs torn and burnt with cigarette ash, drenching her whole body in blood, raped continuously- after locking her up for 18 hours by rapist in August 2016. Police arrested the absconding miscreant rapist but justice is yet to be served. Women are often reported to be raped on public bus by the driver, helper and others as such incidents were reported repeatedly in 2013, 2015 and 2018. A female teacher was raped by her colleague, women were raped in police stations and political activists and leaders are also involved in such crimes. Women seem to be safe nowhere–not at home, not at educational institutes, not at office, not at transport and such is the case with children.
It is unfortunate that after committing such a shameful act, many influential leaders and officials jointly planned to save Siraj and they actively conducted the murder of Nusrat. The rape was done by one and many tried to justify that act. It should be investigated why they tried to help Siraj and where there conscious went while they were doing so.
When a girl filed a rape complaint against the son of the owner of Apan Jewellers and his associates, even the father was not ashamed to justify his son’s act. The media was hyped, the law enforcers seized a lot of so-called unlisted wealth in the form of gold and stones from Apan Jewellers and most of the criminals were caught. But then what? We even don’t know where the victims and criminals are now and lots of corruption was done under the banner of this rape for sure but justice was not served.
As a nation, we have proven during the last two decades that we lose our hype very soon and we are very forgetful. Let alone the thousands of unreported rapes every year but those which are reported stay for years without justice. After a few days, a new incident occurs and our hype is passed on to that incident. Meanwhile what happens with the victims or their families remain an unfinished chapter. But we need to take some drastic steps against such crimes and should work to restore moral in our society.
From the very beginning of educational life, the children should be provided moral and ethical education. It should be included in their curriculum and they must pass moral and ethics tests in every class. The curriculum should be tested by experts from home and abroad. Secondly, nationwide campaign against different types of violence against women and children must be run. Every child should know how to get help after becoming a victim of violence.
A dynamic union based cell should be formed to address such crimes to coordinate with the law enforcers, medical officials, the judiciary, media and even the NGOs or human rights organizations to solve these crimes. It will reduce the difficulties of the victims and their families. Parents must be proactive to educate their children especially with moral values and NGOs should work to educate the parents to create an easy relationship with the children so that they are not afraid to share. The university students should form Thousands of small groups to work around the country to run these awareness campaigns. This should be a mandatory part of their education and it will help the mass people as well as will strengthen their own moral.
We should not protest only for the justice of Nusrat. We should create movement for taking some drastic steps against violence against women and children. Millions of people will join this movement, because almost every household of Bangladesh has a victim of such violence. It is high time we save our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and every other women and children. We hope, though Nusrat lost the battle, we win this war.
The writer is Chief Editor, Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor of Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)