ASK’s Fact Finding: Attack on Gonoshasthaya Kendra and its Compounds

  • Date of the Incident              25/10/2018 and 26/10/2018
  • Place of the Incident            Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Gono Bishwabidyalay, and its compound
  • Date of the Fact Finding       31 October 2018
  • Fact Finding Team                Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir, Hasibur Rahman

Incident

Gonoshasthaya Kendra, a private non-governmental organization, was established in 1971, keeping in mind the objective of the liberation war. It was primarily made for the poor and marginalized people of the society. On 25 October, 2018, the PHA Building (Public Health Assembly Bhaban) of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra was attacked by a group of miscreants carrying iron and wooden sticks.

On 25 October 2018, morning 9 am, nearly 100-150 miscreants attacked the Gonoshasthaya Kendra using iron, bamboo and wooden sticks, destroying the structural infrastructure of the institute. Similarly, on 26 October 2018 Friday morning, nearly two hundred people with sharp objects, iron and wooden sticks attacked the international conference centre, PHA building of the Ganashasthaya Kendra, and carried out severe vandalism and looting of the premises. At one point, the attackers entered into the women’s hostels situated nearby and humiliated them by hurling obscene remarks at them. When Limon Hossain, former law student of Gono Bishwabidyalay, an associate organization of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, protested the incident, and capturing images of the scene with his mobile phone, the attackers got outraged and attacked him, beating him with the wooden sticks, which resulted in his hands getting badly injured. Later, his friends admitted him in the Gonoshasthaya Hospital. Additionally, when Limon and the University authorities went to file a case against the attackers, the police refused to receive the case.

Findings

Based on the media reports, on 31 October 2018, the fact-finding team of ASK visited the site to conduct its own on-site field investigation. According to the information ASK received, Khodeja Begum (pseudonym), a 3rd year para-medical Division student, shared that on 26 October 2018, by around morning 09:20am, a group of about 15-20 people entered their hostel with iron and wooden rods, and proceeded with harassing and humiliating the female students by sprouting offensive remarks at them and ordered them to evacuate the premises in 2 minutes. Then the attackers entered their room and started hurting and upsetting them with their remarks. It has been found that the miscreants, on entering the girls’ hostel, physically and mentally humiliated the female students and forced them to evacuate the hostel. On entering their room, one of them even pushed her to the floor while continuing to vandalize the room, destroying all the objects, and harassing them with offensive remarks.

Complaints Statement 

Khodeja Begum (pseudonym) let the ASK representatives know that this incident needs to be redressed and that she personally is in favor of taking legal action against the attackers for the physical and mental harm they inflicted upon her, and bring them to justice; and she believe other girls want to take the same step against them. She also shared that the police had refused to file/register the case in their station when her university authorities attempted to file a case with them. She further expressed that despite such incidents happening frequently and constantly, the police not taking any steps against them was extremely disappointing.

Limon, who was still admitted in the hospital, shared that on 25 October 2018, at roughly 9 am hhe was informed some miscreants attacked Gonoshasthaya Kendra destroying the main gate. On reaching the site he noticed that about 100-150 miscreants were destroying the infrastructure of the organization and the main gate using iron and wooden rods. Similarly, on the morning of 26 October, the miscreants also attacked the adjacent girls’ hostel. In this regard, when Limon Hossain, a student of Gono Bishwabidyalay, tried to prevent them from entering the hostel, he was beaten badly which resulted in his hand to be severely injured. It must be noted that Limon was shot in the leg by the RAB which was an unlawful stand on their part. According to the medical doctor treating him currently, his bone has cracked due to the heavy impact, and the soft tissue at his elbow has been destroyed extensively which would need time to recover.

On the 28 October 2018, when he went to file the case against the attackers in the Ashulia Police Station, Md. Rezaul Hoq, Officer-in-Charge (OC) instead of receiving the complain as an FIR, stated that the complaint needs to be investigated first, which will be done by their investigation conducting an on-site investigation. Once they will be informed that the complaint is in fact true, only then will they take the necessary steps. He further shared that on 30 October 2018, when he was admitted in the hospital, one of the police inspectors, Sub-Inspector (SI) Nahid, approached him and asked various different question, but made no comments regarding if the case will be filed or not. Limon then tried to contact the OC, but failed. On the morning of 31 October, 2018, the OC contacted him voluntarily letting him know, “SI Nahid knows everything regarding your complaint. You shall contact him.”

Role of Law Enforcing Agencies

Both Limon Hossain and the University authorities went to the police station to file a case; however, the police refused to register their complaints and stated that the facts will first be investigated after which they will take necessary action. It has been about two week since the incident and the law enforcing agencies have not yet taken any step regarding this issue. Despite the continuous attacks that the organization is facing, the law enforcing agencies has not yet taken any step to either stop/prevent the attacks, or taken any measures against the attackers. Attacks and threats still continue to persist in Gonoshasthaya Kendra.

When SI Nahid was contacted regarding the incident of the attack, he revealed that it is not right to share one’s opinion during the investigation, and he subsequently referred the team to the OC. On contacting the OC, he said that the investigation of Limon’s complaint as well as the related matters is on-going and under-way, and that they would take all the legal steps necessary. When he was queried by the ASK representative as to how long the decision on the investigation can be provided, he shared that it would be decided as soon as their investigators submit their findings to the authority.

Observation outside facts

ASK’s fact finding team, on the arrival to the site, found that a boundary wall was being constructed beside the PHA main gate, surrounding the land that was claimed by Nasir Uddin. According to the information provided by the local persons, Nasir Uddin is a Savar based Awami League Leader. Moreover, there seemed to be a construction of another new boundary wall to the North of the PHA building. According to the locals and the staffs of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, this was built by Aminul Islam and others, where he has been claiming its ownership through posting several signboards in the area. Moreover, it must be noted that the workings of such boundary walls have started since 25 October 2018.

Moreover, during the interview, the interviewees claimed that there were several facets in this case. One of the factors leading to this attack was the joining of the trustee board member, Dr. Jafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshastho Kendra, to Jatiyo Oikya Front. Moreover, there also exist disputes regarding the Gonoshasthaya Kendra property.

ASK’s Intervention

The land dispute cases related to the Gonoshasthaya Kendra property are still pending before the court. Thus, such attacks are absolutely unlawful. ASK, through their press statement condemned such an attack and urged the government to take such legal and punitive measures against the attackers as necessary and hold the relevant concerned authority liable for such an incident. Additionally, ASK has also sent a letter to the National Human Rights Council, Bangladesh, to urge them to take the any and all the steps necessary to bring the attackers to justice.