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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'Justice' meted out in vigilante style

Source: The Daily Star
Arbitration done by AL men in Kalapara

The case of abduction and rape of a class VII schoolgirl in Kalapara on September 25 'ended' two days later at an arbitration conducted by local Awami League (AL) leaders with police looking on, according to an investigation.
Following the abduction and rape of the minor girl that created sensation in this remote town, the local AL leaders decided to settle the matter through what they claimed "tough arbitration".
Ironically, local MP and State Minister for Water Resources Mahbubur Rahman Talukder was present in Kalapara at that time.
Locals including a number of AL activists told The Daily Star correspondents the Kalapara police following the event were told to leave the matter to the local leaders, who promised to "give exemplary punishment to the criminals".
They said the victim's family identified at least four of the alleged rapists and the arbitrators are all active members of the ruling Awami League.
"It was a matter of image for the ruling party men during the puja when a top leader was present in Kalapara. And the way the victim's poor family was compensated and the rapists beaten up, the villagers and the victim's family accepted the arbitration as justice done," says an AL senior activist on condition of anonymity.
At around 6:00pm on Sunday the victim, her mother and younger brother were heading for an unknown destination in Kalapara. The mother said she was worried about future of her daughter.
"You see nothing happened to my daughter that day. People are fabricating tales about her," she said clutching her daughter by one hand.
On September 27 the 16 alleged rapists and their accomplices were summoned to a local high school along with their parents. The arbitrators included Kalapara AL General Secretary Rakibul Ahsan, Municipality Vice-Chairman Sultan Mahmud and local Press Club President and also President of Kalapara AL Bipul Howlader.
During the process of this rough justice each of the 'self-confessed rapists' was fined Tk 10,000. As soon as the money amounting to Tk 160,000 was realised, the parents of the young men were asked to leave the school premises.
The AL activists then locked up the main gate of the playground and beat up the criminals one by one.
According to witnesses, the beating of the alleged rapists was brutal and each had to be admitted to hospital. Several of them had to be sent to Barisal Sher-e- Bangla Medical College Hospital for further treatment.
The victim's poor family was handed over the money realised from the perpetrators and asked to totally avoid talking to journalists.
According to a close family member, the events of September 25 have traumatised the entire family, which is now living under stress trying to make up alibis for what had happened that night to this juvenile girl.
The victim was forced to refute allegations of abduction and rape at a hurriedly called press conference.
The same family source, on strict condition of anonymity, said the victim gave a statement to the police naming some of the rapists after she was rescued two kilometres off from the place of abduction at 2:30 in the early morning of September 26.
"She was shattered and cried loudly as her mother tried to console her. Nobody in this area has ever witnessed such a case of abduction and rape so nobody knew what to do," he added.
A local activist of AL said when some people in the crowd at the Kalapara police station demanded the girl to be sent for medical examination, the officer-in-charge (OC) told everyone to go home.
"At around 3:30am the police station was thronged by several hundred people when the OC told everyone to go home. He took the child in custody with her mother beside her for the rest of the night," he said.
The next day the victim's grandfather took the child into his custody after signing an undertaking. The same day the ruling party local leadership also announced that a salish (arbitration) to try the rapists would be conducted the following day.
The OC of Kalapara later admitted that the police had detained two young men from the place where the girl was dumped but had to release them after the victim failed to identify them as perpetrators.
At around 8:30pm on September 25 the schoolgirl was abducted by a gang of youths from the Yatim Khana Road as she was returning home with her cousin brother after visiting a puja mandap.
During the abduction in front of the residence of a former MP of Jatiya Party, according to half a dozen women in the neighbourhood, there was a commotion as both the girl and her cousin cried for help.
"We could not go out because this part of the road was so dark, but minutes later a young man rushed to inform others nearby about the abduction," said an eyewitness on Yatim Khana Road.
A close relative of the victim said when the alarm was raised about the abduction the entire town became vigilant with scores of men on motorbikes and rickshaws trying to locate the victim and the abductors.
"People all over Kalapara learned about the abduction within minutes but nobody could trace the victim," he said.
The family source said at around 2:30 in the morning three villagers found the victim near the under-construction Denmark-Bangladesh friendship bridge and informed the police over phone.
A patrol team immediately rescued the girl and brought her to the police station.
"She was so traumatised that she could not say much other than how many people raped her," said the relative.
Nikhil Halder, ward councillor of Chinguria and also organiser of the puja mandap, said the abduction took place on a dark road near the mandap, which is on the border of his ward. "We rushed to the spot immediately after the girl was taken away but could not do anything about it," he said.
Emran Biswas, councillor of the Yatim Khana ward, said the abduction took place within the boundary of his ward.
"I learned that the gang involved in the abduction came from Naiyapara. I was never called by the arbitrators," he said.
When the matter was reported in national newspapers, the deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police of Patuakhali visited Kalapara police station on October 2 and talked to the victim.
Both the top officials quoted the victim as saying that she was not raped.
State Minister for Water Resources Mahbubur Rahman Talukder, MP told The Daily Star he had heard about the incident. He added he would expect the police to take action in similar criminal cases.
A top AL leader requesting anonymity said a gang from the town's Naiyapara was behind the abduction and rape. No members of Bangladesh Chhatra League took part in the crime, he claimed.
"The Kalapara Awami League leaders have done justice by settling the matter within the community. This [the arbitration] has in fact saved the girl's poor family and also sent a message to other criminals," he added.
A team of investigators from Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) from Dhaka is now in Kalapara for an investigating, which was never initiated by the local police.

Sleeping ministers, rapes and atrocities in Bangladesh

Source: Weekly Blitz
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Although nine months have already passed since Awami League led ‘Grand Alliance’ government [a combination of leftists and Islamists] came in power through a questioned landslide victory, according to Dhaka’s popular vernacular tabloid daily Manabzamin, twenty ministers and junior ministers in the cabinet are seen very much inactive. Two of the ministers of the present government are mostly spending time at home or hospital as they have several physical complications, while some of them do not attend their office even five hours a week. Ministries are forced to send files at their homes for signature. According to Manabzamin, there is no reflection of the Electoral Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League in its administration. There are 52 member cabinet in Bangladesh consisting ministers, junior ministers and advisors. The newspaper said, there is ‘tug of war’ between ministers and secretaries in a number of ministries in Bangladesh, as those ministers are trying to turn these government offices into mere center of party sycophants and touts. The most effective minister in the preset cabinet in Bangladesh is Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, who is in charge of the finance ministry. He is popularly known as the ‘digital minister’ in Bangladesh as he already has introduced e-communication system in his ministry where, every citizen of Bangladesh can contact the minister through email and get replies to their questions. Finance ministry in Bangladesh is considered to be the most effective under the leadership of AMA Muhit.
Agricultural affairs minister Matia Chowdhury, who enjoys high esteem of being the most honest politician in Bangladesh is earning wrath of Awami League activists as she rejects all forms of requests from party touts. But now a days, there are even allegations of irregularities against Mrs. Chowdhury. She is alleged of issuing license for dealing in fertilizer only to Awami League cadres.
Commerce minister Lieutenant Colonel [Retired] Faruq Khan has already earned the bad reputation of being the most talketive minister in Bangladesh. Although there are rumors that the commerce minister does not pay any heed to any type of persuation from the party cadres, it is proved that several relatives of him are active in lobbying and they are known to be the ‘channels’ in reaching the minister in getting any issue settled and done. Faruq Khan is already alleged of according a huge business contract of edible oil and sugar to a non-existent Swedish company.
There are series of allegations against the junior minister in law ministry, Advocate Qamrul Islam. It is reported in press that, he is continuing to take bribes in appointing Public Prosecutors and Assistant Public Prosecutors in Bangladesh.
General Secretary or ruling party and minister in charge of local government and rural development [LGRD], Syed Ashraful Islam attends his office only 5-6 hours a week. His absence in the ministry causes tremendous obstacle in smooth performance of this very important office of the government.
According to some of his close allies, the LGRD minister wakes up from bed everyday at 1 pm. Till he gets prepared, the working hour of the ministry is almost finished. Syed Ashraful Islam is more busy in party activities than taking care of his responsibility as a very important minister.
Labor and manpower minister, Engineer Mosharraf Hussain [who is the father-in-law of Prime Minister’s daughter] has failed to make any contribution in creating any job scope for Bangladeshi workers abroad. He also has failed in doing anything in resolving the ongoing labor unrest in various textile and readymade garment industries in Bangladesh.
Junior minister of labor and manpower ministry, Monnujan Sufian [wife of a trade unionist] spends most of the time in her constituency instead of attending the ministry.
Land minister Rexaul Karim Heera and Social Welfare minister Enamul Huq Mustafa Shahid spend most of their time at their homes, as they have several physical complications due to old age. Sons of these ministers were seen active in the ministries concerned in ‘looking after’ day-to-day activities of the ministries. It was reported in the local media that those sons of the ministers were making good amount of cash through various types of corruption, taking the advantage of their father’s undeclared representatives in the ministries.
Leftist leader Dilip Barua, who is in charge of the industries ministry has failed to show any remarkable performance in past nine months. He has already been alleged of corruption while purchasing fertilizer from abroad. It may be mentioned here that, Bangladesh imports Urea, Potash and other types of fertilizer from foreign countries worth a few hundred million dollar, each year.
Minister in charge of civil aviation and tourism ministry, Golam Mohammed Quader is working tirelessly despite series of threats from the corrupt trade unionists in several organizations under his ministry, including the nation flag career Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
Communication minister Syed Abul Hossain is alleged to be persuing and lobbying in getting various projects for his own company named Shaco Limited. Abul Hossain is known to be a good friend of China.
It is further alleged that, Abul Hossain has virtually forced the energy ministry in issuing the permission in favor of his own company for establishment of 150 mega watt power station in Sylhet district.
Health ministry has turned into an epicenter of war between the minister, junior minister and advisor. Due to such internal battle, there is virtually no performance of this ministry, which already resulted in no initiative from the government in providing vaccine to people during the recent crisis of Swine Flu. There are also reports in Bangladeshi media that the country is already suffering from acute crisis of birth control and family planning materials.
Minister in charge of livestock ministry is presently at the center of serious controversy as several animals are continuing to die at Dhaka zoo during past few weeks. The minister failed to take any action in stopping such dubious death of animals.From these information it becomes crystal clear that the present government is gradually failing in ensuring good governance. Bangladesh Awami League is not only failing to fulfill its electoral pledges to the nation, but, pushing the fate of the nation towards multiple complicities mostly due to either mafunction or non-functioning of the ministers.
Meanwhile, another leading vernacular daily in Dhaka, Amader Shomoy reported that, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son, Sajib Wajed Joy is working as her ‘undeclared advisor’ since the present government came in power.
In 1996, when Awami League came in power, Joy, who lives in United States committes series of irregularities by proclaiming to be the advisor to his mother. It was even reported in a English language periodical in Bangladesh that Sajib Wajed Joy became owner of huge properties in United States during the tenure of his mother [1996-2001].
Now, here is the most alarming information, which will clearly show the bad governance of Bangladesh Awami League in past nine months. According to Amar Desh, a front ranking vernacular dailly newspaper in Bangladesh, 338 women and children were raped during past nine months in various parts of Bangladesh while 50 women and 22 minor girls were murdered after rape.
The report further said, 68 women and 51 girls were also gang raped during past nine months.
On September 25, 2009, 10 activists of Bangladesh Awami League raped a young girl, on her return from a Hindu temple at Kolapara upazila [sub-district] under Patuakhali district at the Southern part of Bangladesh. Later, an influential ruling party leader of the sub-dustrict, forced the family members of the raped girl to sign in blank papers to stop them from lodging any complaint with police. None of the perpetrators were ever arrested since the brutal rape of the Hindu girl.
At Pirojpur district [Southern part of Bangladesh], Ahsan Kabir Mamun, information secretary of the district committee of the student wing of Bangladesh Awami League abducted a school girl and videographed while raping her with the help of his friends. It may be mentioned here that, while Awami League was in power in 1996, a leader of its student’s wing arranged a grand party at Jahangir Nagar University to celebrate the completion of his ‘raping 100 female students’. Later, instead of punishing this perpetrator, Awami League awarded him with a job at National University. Since Awami League came in power in 2009, such rapes have again started in various university campuses and residential halls in Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi Hindu Abducted, Forced to Convert to Islam

source: Weekly Blitz
By Dr. Richard L. Benkin

The Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist, Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) recently reported the abduction and forced conversion of a Bangladeshi Hindu girl to Islam; two human rights organizations, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and Bangladesh Minority Watch (BDMW) also investigated it. At 12:45am on 13 June, Koli Goswami was asleep in her bed when five Muslims broke into the family home in Ghosai Chandura, located in northern Bangladesh. They vandalized the home and grabbed the 21-year old the college student. She cried out, but the men easily overpowered her and covered her head to muffle the screams. When others in the house came to her aid, the perpetrators drew their guns, started shooting, and carried off the girl even as she struggled to break free. Her family has not seen her since that night three months ago. Westerners believe that forced conversion belongs to a bygone age, which is why when presenting these incidents in Washington, it is critical to provide more than horrific allegations—which, by the way, the Bangladeshis routinely deny. Verified details, separating fact from hyperbole, and demonstrating some sort of government complicity are key. In this case, bizarre and contradictory actions by the police only confirm the Bangladeshi government’s support for anti-minority violence and the ethnic cleansing of its Hindu population. According to human rights activist Rabindra Ghosh, who investigated this case, police deny that any crime occurred and refuse to pursue a case; this despite physical evidence of a break-in, which they admit having; the family’s video taped testimony; the legal complaint lodged by the girl's guardian; and the family’s pleas for them to help locate and recover their daughter. Police told GHRD and BDMW representatives on site, “It is not kidnapping. It is love affairs between kidnapper and victim.” Kidnapper? Victim? That hardly sounds like a love affair. Yet, police continue to insist that even while refusing to explain the basis for their conclusion, including their investigation, or why they dismiss the physical evidence that refutes their claim. Nor do they explain why it took five men—including an accused murderer currently charged with murder—to “convince” Koli to leave home.
These actions prompted my organization, Interfaith Strength, to investigate the matter under the direction of Bikash Halder, its Indian representative. Halder dispatched four men to the family home where they spoke with Koli’s uncle and guardian, Professor Beraj Goswami. He claims to have faced nothing but corruption, duplicity, and collusion in the crime from the police. When he filed a complaint immediately after the kidnapping, he expected quick action given the nature of the crime and the family’s obvious distress. Instead, he met with the police denial—but still insisted that producing Koli would clarify what happened that night. Instead, they produced suspect “affidavits and other so-called marriage of conversion documents,” dated from the time of the girl’s captivity. The only way to determine their veracity would be for Koli Goswami herself to testify in a safe environment that the documents were not force on her under duress.
Instead, Goswami’s told Halder, the following sequence of events occurred. First, the Investigating Officer agreed to help him in exchange for a 25,000 Taka bribe, which Goswami paid. He ordered him to return to the Nandail police station on 21 June and wait while the police retrieved his niece. After quite some time, they returned instead with an older woman covered in a Muslim Burkha and hence impossible to identify. She said she was Koli Goswami’s mother and that she and her daughter converted to Islam because of a love affair—something Koli’s real mother disputed numerous times. Goswami denies that the woman was his sister-in-law, but cannot fathom the attempted deception since he could learn the truth by speaking to the woman he knew to be Koli Goswami’s mother. There is a final, rather chilling element to the 21 June meeting: the local Awami League MP, Major General (Retired) Abdus Salam, was present during the episode and threatened Goswami should he proceed with the case any further or dispute the conversion.
Curiously, while the police did not produce Koli that day, they now claim that she was present at a secret hearing before a magistrate the next day, about which the family was never told until after it allegedly occurred. They cannot confirm that their daughter was there or that it even took place. Goswami “protested vehemently” and told Halder that as a result “we are afraid we may further be attacked and our adult daughters abducted.”
What is not in dispute is: there was a home invasion; a family’s daughter was taken and has not been seen since; the alleged perpetrators have been identified and at least one is a known criminal; and the police refuse to pursue a case. We also know that a magistrate and the police claim that Koli has converted to Islam, and a government official from the ruling Awami League warned the family to stop fighting it.
As noted in an earlier Pioneer article about an anti-Hindu pogrom in Dhaka, “normal legal protections are suspended for Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh.”
Abductions, rape, and forced conversion of young minority girls is up under the current Bangladeshi government; prosecutions are non-existent. This attack on the Hindu gene pool is a key element to ongoing ethnic cleansing. As such Bangladesh’s Hindu population continues to decline—down to nine percent from almost one in five Bangladeshis at the time of independence. Incidents like these proceed with a wink and a nod from the government and silence from the international community. We can only hope that it wakes up to these atrocities before Bangladesh’s Hindus suffer the same fate as Pakistan’s.

Bangladesh: 2 held on rape charge

Source: The DailyStar

Manikganj: Police on Tuesday night arrested two youths on charge of raping a 7-year-old girl at Nayakandi village under Shivalaya police station. The arrestees are Suja, 16, and Samej, 20, of the village. Victim's father earlier filed a case with the police station against the two youths alleging that Suja took her daughter to his house four days ago. There he raped the girl while Samej kept watch by standing outside the door, he said. Officer in- Charge of Shivalaya police station Moniruzzaman said the rape victim was being treated at Manikganj Sadar Hospital.