BANGLADESH: Police pressure a female victim of an acid attack to withdraw her case and marry her attacker

Faheem Aamer

Former President of National Students Federation

Name of the victim:
1. Ms. Reshma, age 18; daughter of Mr. Md. Habibullah Morol; residing in Horinkhola village under the Koyra police station in Khulna district..

Names of the alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Md. Abdul Hashem, Sub Inspector of Police; attached to Koyra Police Station in Khulna district at the time of the incident.
2. Mr. Kazi Daud Hossain, Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Koyra Police Station in Khulna district at the time of the incident.
3. Mr. Md. Ayub Mollah, age 20; son of Mr. Eakub Mollah; living in Ghatakhali under Koyra Police Station in Khulna district.

Date of incident: 7 May 2009
Place of incident: The victim’s home, Horinkhola village, Khulna district

I am writing to express my deepest concern over the acid attack of a teenage girl, who has since been repeatedly intimidated by the alleged attacker and police while fighting her case. I am appalled to hear that Koyra police are reportedly working to support the attacker rather than the vulnerable victim, and have pressured her to marry him. The final investigation report cleared and discharged the accused despite strong evidence linking him to the crime, and I demand to know why no action has been taken against the officer responsible.

According to the case information I have received, Mr. Ayub Mollah took to harassing and threatening Ms. Reshma (whose parents work out of the country) after a marriage refusal. The victim moved away to escape the threat, but on a brief trip back home she reports that Mr. Mollah entered the house, sexually propositioned her and threw acid at her face. She suffered burns to her face, ear and left shoulder; neighbours admitted her to the Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH).

However I am disturbed to hear that the complaint – drafted by the One-Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) at the KMCH on 13 Oct was not recorded. I hear that it was only lodged after a full month of pressure from civilians (FIR No. 10/09), and that officers illegally changed the date of the signed complaint.

Eyewitnesses then report that the Investigating Officer (IO), Sub Inspector (SI) Mr. Md. Abdul Hashem, went to the area of the crime-scene and accepted refreshment from Mr. Mollah, along with various other members of the ruling political party, the Bangladesh Awami League, before visiting the victim at home to insist that she withdraw her case. The SI suggested that she settle for a cash payment and, I am outraged to hear, marry Mr. Mollah for her own safety and benefit.

I hear that Mr. Mollah and his political associates have given death threats to Reshma and warned other witnesses not to testify. While she has lodged a General Diary with the Koyra police seeking protection and has been given none, the perpetrator has been granted his own form of police protection: despite strong evidence to the contrary, SI Hashem’s overdue final report in September discharged him.

I strongly urge the Bangladeshi authorities to rescue the reputation of law enforcement in this area, and give the crime the investigation it is due by law; taking particular note of the age and vulnerability of the victim. Such acid attacks against women must only be met with strong criminal sanctions if they are to be discouraged. The alleged illegal actions of the Koyra police, particularly SI Md. Abdul Hashem, must be probed and those proved guilty brought before the law and removed from their positions. As is evident from this case, the Bangladesh police require thorough reforms for the sake of the rule of law in the country.

I strongly urge  Mrs. Sheikh Hasina , Prime Minister  – Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. M. M. Ruhul Amin, Chief Justice Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Minister
of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Ms. Sahara Khatun MP, Home Minister, Mr. Mahbubey Alam, Attorney General of Bangladesh, Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury, Chairman National Human Rights Commission and Mr. Nur Mohammad Inspector General of Police to take an immediate action against this crime.

Friends, if anybody wants to make a direct appeal to the athorities, please feel free to contact us.

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