Source: The Daily Star
Victim made to deny rape by BCL men; AL leaders blame journalists for tarnishing party image.
Kalapara police administration under influence of local leaders of the ruling party is holding back facts about the incident of abduction and gang rape of the schoolgirl on September 25 by ruling party activists.
A group of 16 Chhatra League activists kidnapped the schoolgirl while she was returning home with her cousin by a rickshaw from a puja mandap on September 25 evening. They gang raped the girl and left her on the road.
Locals rescued the victim about four hours later and handed her over to a police patrol team led by ASI Kabir Hossain.
The police chased and detained two of the perpetrators with the help of locals.
The law enforcers took the terrified girl to her house but set the two arrestees free.
Asked why they were set free, ASI Kabir said, “They were released as the victim at that moment was unable to identify the two as attackers.”
Meanwhile, unidentified criminals have threatened to kill Patuakhali correspondent of Bangladesh Observer Gofran Biswas alias Palash for writing reports on the incident.
Palash, also correspondent of local daily Sathi, filed a general diary with Kalapara Police Station saying some unknown criminals gave him death threat on his way back home on Women's College Road at around 10:00pm.
The incident of gang rape prompted the Upazila Awami League leaders to hold an arbitration at a local school on September 27.
Upazila AL secretary Rakibul Hasan, vice chairman of Kalapara Upazila Parishad Sultan Mahmud and other local leaders found the 16 BCL men "guilty" of the crimes.
However, they set the accused free after awarding each perpetrator 100 lashes and a fine of Tk 10,000.
Rakibul Hasan, who contested for the post of chairman in the last Upazila Parishad election, told The Daily Star that the incident of the rape was designed to tarnish the image of the ruling party.
“A bunch of irresponsible journalists outside Kalapara fabricated it to tarnish our image. The deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police did not find any element of rape in their investigation," he claimed.
He further said the girl herself has moved to sue the journalists.
Rakibul said the arbitration on September 27 had nothing to do with this case as it was held to address the problem of eve teasers in Kalapara.
Local sources said the ruling party men got annoyed after the incident was reported in national dailies. They intimidated the poor peasant family of the victim and made them publicly refute the allegations of rape at a press conference.
The victim was intimidated to sue a local journalist who reported the incident of rape to his newspaper in Patuakhali.
Sources said Awami League leaders are now desperately trying to suppress the crime that involves their activists.
A businessman in Kalapara seeking anonymity said, “This is a serious issue for the ruling party leaders here. They are using their influence over the police as well as the administration to suppress facts about the incident."
Locals said the victim's family, which is now under the grip of the police and ruling party leaders, has agreed to cooperate with them.
Patuakhali Deputy Commissioner Reaz Ahmed and Superintendent of Police Saibal Kanti Chowdhury along with a female magistrate went to Kalapara Police Station to talk to the victim on Thursday evening.
Reaz Ahmed quoted the victim as saying that she was not raped. She took shelter in a nearby house after her cousin came under attack.
Saibal said they found no evidence of rape. He said the team of investigators from Patuakhali talked to the victim privately in presence of a female magistrate.
“She said the attackers stopped the rickshaw and started beating her cousin. She instantly ran away from the scene and took shelter in a house from where locals and the police rescued her,” he said quoting the victim.
“We also found out that the arbitration held two days after the incident had nothing to do with this particular case but with the problem of eve teasers in the area,” the SP added.