Noakhali Gang-rape Case

Fact Finding Report

ASK Investigation Unit

 

Date of Incident:       30 December 2018
Place of Incident:      Char Jubolee Union Baggya Village, Char Jabbar Police Station, Noakhali
Fact Finding Date:    2-3 January 2019
Fact Finding Team:  Hasibur Rahman, Investigator, Selina Akhter, Sr. Staff Lawyer, Nargis Akhter, Sr. Documentalist

Incident:
According to the facts found by the investigation team, on the night of the 11th National Parliamentary Election, 30 December, at about 12:00 to 01:00 am (31 December), at Maddhya Baggya Village, Charzabbar Police Station, Noakhali, few unnamed persons of the locality came to Sirajul Islam’s house. In order to enter their house, they identified themselves as Polices. Once the doors were opened, they started beating Sirajul Islam and his sons, after which they tied them within the house, dragged Sirajul Islam’s wife, Parul Akhter (40) outside, and physically tortured her and raped her. Meanwhile, they attacked Sirajul as well. After they left the place, Parul’s sons and husband found her in the pond near their home. Next day, on 31 December, Parul Akhter and Sirajul Islam were admitted in the Noakhali 250 Bed General Hospital. It has been alleged by Parul and her family members that along with the existence of past enmity between them and the attackers, they were attacked and she was raped as she did not vote for the candidate of the attackers’ choice in the 11th National Parliamentary Election. Under the case filed by Sirajul Islam, 5 accused have been arrested till 3 January. Parul and her husband have also alleged that even though they wanted to include Ruhul Amin as the supporter/instigator behind the incident of Rape and Torture, the police removed his name from the FIR.

 

Findings
On the basis of the abovementioned incident, ASK’s representatives visited the place of the incident for conducting investigation. During the investigation, the representatives’ group talked with the rape victim Parul Akhter, her husband Sirajul Islam, other eye-witnesses, doctors, as well as law enforcement agencies. On the 2 January afternoon, when the ASK representatives reach the 250 Bed General hospital, Parul Akhter, from Ward No. 2, Bed No. 10, shared the details of the incident with the ASK’s representative.

 

She said, ‘On the night of the incident, I was sleeping with my children. The sound of knocking late that night wakes me from my sleep and I request for the identity of the visitors. They instantly respond that they are the police [LEA]. They start pushing on the door as it was taking time to open it. Once the door opens, 10 persons enter the house with knives and sticks. They were known people from the same locality as us. They were: Sohel (1), Bechu, Salauddin, Hanif, Swapon, Basu, Abul, Sohel (2), Mosharraf, Choudhury. While telling them to sit down, I ask Sohel, What made you come here at this time of the night, Sohel? Is there any problem? Instantly they start bad-mouthing me by using slang words. Meanwhile 3 of them move to the next room towards the bed of my daughter who is in her 8th standard. I, my husband and my children plead them not to harm my daughter. They tie all four of my children on one bed and then start dragging me out of the home. When my husband comes forward, they hurt him with sticks. They remove the muffler my husband was wearing around his neck and use it to tie him with it. They then took me out and locked the door from the outside. They continue to beat me with the sticks and injure me all over my body. They did not leave any of my clothes. They opened my blouse and put it inside my mouth. And then they took me towards the lake, and then near the Kathal tree, each of them raped me one by one. I had no energy left in me to fight/protest against it and at one point, I faint. Later, my husband comes, covers me with the quilt and takes me back home and I hear from him that they wanted to slaughter me. I want justice. They also robbed away 40 Thousand Taka that I withdrew from Sonali Bank, my earrings, my son’s mobile phone and my daughter’s nose piece jewellery.’

 

She further said, ‘my only mistake was that I voted for ‘sheaf of paddy’. When I went to cast my vote at 2 pm at the voting centre, Shahabul and Jasim asked me to vote for ‘boat’ when I was handed the ballot paper and seal. They publicly asked me to vote for ‘boat’ and I said that I will vote for ‘sheaf of paddy’. On my way back home from the voting centre, Sohel and Bechu who were standing outside, threatens me by saying that they will see to me. They tell me that they will see to me at night. Then at night they come and attack us at our house. They may also attack our home in the future. They are all members of Ruhul Amin (former UP member).’

 

Parul Akhter’s eldest son Md. Abdul Kuddus, a CNG Driver, told the ASK representative, ‘On the day of voting, we were all asleep at about 11pm or 12 am. Yanur was sleeping with father and mother; I was in the balcony, and in another bed, my mentally disabled younger brother and sister from the 8th standard. Suddenly, we all wake up at the sound at the door. From inside the home, mother asks them who they were and they respond with that they are from the police, and to open the door. On not opening the door, they attacked the tin fence. Later when the door was opened, 10 persons including Sohel, Salauddin, Swapon, Bechu, Mosharraf, Choudhury and Abul, enter our house. Mother asked Sohel, ‘what happened? Sit.’ Meanwhile when Salauddin, Mosharraf, and Abu move towards my sister’s bed, mother pleads them not to harm her. At this moment, Swapon says, do what we came to do; don’t do anything to the girl and children. They then move away from Shabnur’s bed and approach my mother, and attacks her. Using Sahbnur’s scarf, they tie my hands and mouth, and tie father with his muffler. They also tie my younger brother and sister. Then they dragged my mother out and lock the doors from outside. Taking her outside, they mercilessly beat my mother. In order to save her life, she screamed, but they did not leave her. From them, one of them even mentioned about slaughtering my mother. At one point, only the sound of whimpering could be heard and then only the sound of the beating sticks could be heard. I could not hear my mother at all. After that, they leave the place leaving my mother behind. I feared that they might have killed my mother already. After a lot of struggles, father was able to untie himself after which he untied me. Me and my father leave home and see that near the lake under the Kathal tree, mother was lying without any clothes on. Mother was unconscious. Father brought a quilt from inside the home, covered her and we took her inside and call our neighbours Babu Choudhury and Julekha Begum. After a long time, giving her cold-water press and servicing her, mother gains consciousness. I called several CNG Drivers, but noone came to take my mother to the hospital out of fear. In this situation, we also call up Ruhul Amin, but he does not receive our call either. At morning 9am when the village doctor Sohel Mahmud was contacted, he advised us to take her to the Noakhali General Hospital. But we could not get any transportation to come to Noakhali. Later, when Kalam Uncle called up, he managed an ambulance and by 1pm afternoon, we reach the Sadar Hospital. The attackers beat and tortured my mother mercilessly injuring her all over her body. They broke her hand and she had severe loss of blood from her legs. They severely beat my mother’s chest as well, wounding her all over. We want proper justice against this incidence.’

 

Rape victim Parul Akhter’s husband, Sirajul Islam, told the ASK representatives, due to being sick, I was not able to go to the voting centre on the day of the 11th National Parliamentary Election. My wife, Parul Akhter, went to cast her vote at around 2pm. Based on the casting of vote, Parul Akhter had some talks with the Awani League supporters Jasim and Shahabul. They ask my wife to vote for ‘boat’ where my wife tells them that she will not vote for the ‘boat’ but for ‘sheaf of paddy’. On her way back, Heju and Sohel tell her, ‘We won’t say anything now, we will look into you later.’ We were sleeping at night. By attacking the doors they identify themselves as police from the station. After the door was opened, about 10-12 of them enter our house. On seeing Sohel, my wife asks him what he is upto at this time of the night. They insult her and hit her with a stick. 2-3 hits from the stick. Meanwhile 2-3 of them approach my daughter Shabnur’s bed when we all pled him not to harm our daughter. At this point, Swapon tells them, Do what we are supposed to so. Not the daughter, catch the mother. They then tied all of us in and take Parul outside the house. They kept on beating her outside and once mentioned that they will slaughter her. At one point no sound of Parul could be heard. Only the sound of beatings could be heard. At that time, I thought that they may have killed my wife already. After a lot of tries, I finally succeed in opening the ties by biting into it using my teeth. After that I open the other’s ties. We couldn’t even leave our house with the fear of the attackers being outside. After a while, when I go out, I see my wife lying on the ground with no clothes, as if she is dead. Taking a quilt out, I along with my children bring her inside. We could not take her to any doctors throughout the night. We couldn’t find any means to come to Noakhali. 2 hours after servicing my wife with water and oil, she finally gained consciousness. At 9am in the morning, when we called the village doctor Sohel Mahmud, he advised us to take her to the Noakhali Hospital. Later Kamal manages and sends an ambulance with which we bring her to the hospital at around 1pm and get her admitted.’

 

In a related question, Sirajul Islam says, ‘Ruhul Amin member was elected as a member of the 2011 Union Parishad (UP) election of the Char Jubolee Union Ward no. 4. At that time I and my family members supported them. After winning the election he started helping the terrorists and stealing trees, gambling, and drug business and allowing all various sorts of crimes. Due to such activities of his, 5 years after the election, in the next UP election year 2016, we did not support him. He was defeated that year. In the election, we support Khalil and he wins the election that year, becoming the UP member. Due to this Ruhul was gravely upset over us. About 2-3 months after that election, in the Qurbani-Eid (Eid-ul-Adha), we went over to my in-laws place. On my way back from my in-laws when we were entering our home, Ruhul Amin beats me and my wife. Lastly, 5-6 months back my wife and my sister-in-laws went over to the neighbours’ house to play ludo. Bechu, who is Awami League leader Ruhul Amin’s supporter, bad-mouthed my wife about this. This resulted in a verbal quarrel between them, where at one point; my wife hit Bechu with the pot in her hand. Others including Bechu, Sohel, Choudhury, Swapon, Salauddin are Ruhul Amin’ supporters and are known as the supporters of the local Awami League.

 

On 2 January 2019 evening, ASK representative team went to visit the victim’s house in Maddhya Baggya Village and the village doctor, Sohel Mahmud said that on receiving the news, he come over to Parul Akhter’s home at morning 9am. ‘On witnessing the weak condition of Parul Akhter, I advised for her immediate transfer to the Hospital. She couldn’t say anything; she was only whimpering. At 11 am, when an ambulance came to take her, I assisted her into it,’ he shared.

 

Babu Choudhury, neighbour of the victim, told the ASK representative, ‘when the attackers leave after they have attacked and the raped, Parul Akhter’s Husband, Siraj, calls me over. So much had happened in this house, we couldn’t have imagined. On entering their house, I notice that Parul was wrapped up and covered with a blanket, and that someone was massaging her all over. She was lying there lifelessly. That night, we tried calling several people, but we could not manage to arrange a transport for her. Later, the next day, at 11 am when the ambulance comes, we make arrangements to send her off to the hospital. From what we heard about the attackers against whom the case was filed, they are mostly workers from the Brick Kiln. They are not good people. They are involved with various sorts of crime in the locality. Whoever may be connected with this incident, we want exemplary punishment to be taken against them.’

 

Hospital Authorities Opinion
On reaching the 250 Bed General Hospital on 02 January during the afternoon, the superintendent Dr. Md. Khalil Ullah shares with the ASK representative, ‘The current physical status of the patient is improving. In 1-2 days, her situation will improve further. The sort of medical treatment she requires is possible only here. However, it will take several days for her to recover completely. I hope there is no lacking during her treatment. From outside, it seems like she is a victim of physical and sexual torture/violence. In order to ensure if she was raped or not, evidence has been collected. The collected evidence has been sent to Noakhali Medical College. The report will be received in a matter of the next 1-2 days.’

 

The registration number of Parul Akhter is 7404/1. Admission time is at noon 01:00pm, 31 December 2018. Reason of admission is Sexual Assault.

 

As of now (03 January 2019), the Police are guarding the Special Cabin (Nurse’s Waiting Room) on the 4th Floor of the 250 Bed General Hospitals. On the same day, Sirajul Islam, victim of physical torture was admitted in the hospital. His registration number is 9405/2. His reason of admission is Physical assault.

 

Legal steps and opinion of the Police Super
On reaching the Noakhali Police Super Office in the afternoon of 2 January, ASK representative talked with the police super, Ilias Shareef. Ilias Shareef shared, ‘we got to know about the incident after the victim was brought in the hospital. What happened with her was extremely cruel. We went and met with the victim in the hospital. Noone involved/connected with this incident will be spared. Meanwhile, we have succeeded in arresting 3 of the accused. They were workers of the brick kiln. Two more are under surveillance; hopefully they will be arrested in a day or two. Who is the supporter of which [political] group. Even though the family did not include Ruhul Amin’s name in the FIR, they have been claiming him to be the mastermind of this incident in various media reports. We have taken this opinion of theirs in our consideration. Any individual, other than the ones whose names are mentioned in the FIR, who is found during the investigation to be connected to this incident, will also be brought under the law.’

 

In response to other related questions, he further shared, ‘the victims currently do not have any threat over their security. Their sons and daughters were in their house at the night even. Nevertheless, for the security of the victims, two plain-clothed policemen have been situated in the hospital. If required, uniformed police-women will also be there. DIG Golam Faruk, Chattogram Range, will visit the place of incident today.’

 

On 2 January, evening, when ASK Representative Team reaches the Victim’s house situated in Maddhya Baggya Village, they get to talk with the Officer-in-charge of the Char Jabbar Police Station, Md. Nijamuddin. He said, ‘Sirajul Islam, Parul Akhter’s husband, filed a case in the police station on 31 December 2018, as the applicant and named 9 persons as defendants on the allegation of Parul Akhter’s Torture and gang-rape. The Case number is 12. He filed the case under Section 143, 448, 323 and 427 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, as well as Section 9(3) of the Nari o Shishu Nirjaton Daman Ain.’

 

Follow-up
On 4 April 2019, Mohd. Shahjahan informed ASK’s fact finding team that Rowshan Ara’s medical report was received by them; the report is positive that rape did take place. On the other hand, the remaining two accused were also arrested.

 

ASK’s Intervention
Besides doing follow-up on the incident, ASK is also providing legal aid and support to the victim.