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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bangladesh: Ruling Party leaders pressurize victim to 'refutes' rape report

Source: The Daily Star
The Kalapara schoolgirl, who was kidnapped and gang raped on September 25 and whose family had to leave home under duress, told a press conference that she was not raped but tortured by a gang.
The poor girl along with her peasant father and mother addressed the hurriedly called press conference at Kalapara press club Wednesday night flanked by local Awami League leaders Rakibul Ahsan and Sultan Mahmud.
Rakib, secretary of AL Kalapara upazila unit, and Mahmud, vice chairman of Kalapara upazila parishad, were the two arbitrators who set the 16 Chhatra League activists, accused of kidnap and rape, free on Sunday last after fining them Tk 10,000 each.
Local human rights activists however said no proper steps on the matter could be taken until the victim is rescued from the grip of a local political group.
Locals alleged that the victim girl was forced to read out a written statement, declaring she was not raped but tortured while she along with a cousin was returning home after visiting a puja mandap on September 25.
They alleged that a local political clique has taken the entire family of the victim under its shelter and using them as safeguard against legal steps against the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, the victim also filed a defamation case with judicial magistrate court of Kalapara upazila yesterday accusing three--publisher, editor and reporter--of a daily. Judge Md Jamal Hossain ordered that Kalapara Upazila Social Welfare Officer will look into the matter and hearing on the case will be held on November 3.
Patuakhali Deputy Commissioner Md Reaz Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday that the Prime Minister's Office had asked him to look into the incident and subsequently, he asked local police to take lawful action.
Major Rajib Amin, commander of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) camp in Patuakhali, told this correspondent that Rab on Wednesday invited AL leader Rakibul Ahsan, who awarded the fines through a village arbitration, to provide Rab with his version of the incident but he did not appear till last evening.
Kamrul Huda Siddiqui alias Sumon, project coordinator for Anirban, a local rights body, said they are trying to liaise with Rab and local police so that they can rescue the victim and send her to a safe home in Dhaka.
“It will not be possible to take any step till the victim is rescued from the grips of political persons,” he added.

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