Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked law enforcers to take stern action against the killers as a massive outcry reverberated across the nation seeking justice for Nusrat Jahan Rafi, who was burned and lost the battle for life on Wednesday following her protest of sexual harassment by madrasa principal.
Unidentified people in burqa poured kerosene and set on fire Alim examinee Nusrat after she went to Sonagazi Islamia Fazil Madrasa to sit for exam on Saturday. Severely burned, she was being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital where she died on Wednesday.
People from all walks of life protested on social media and some even took to the streets demanding a swift and highest punishment for those involved in the brutality.
“The Prime Minister directed law enforcement agencies to bring the culprits to justice and take punitive action against them,” PM"s press secretary Ihsanul Karim said.
Sheikh Hasina prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.
Protests across country
People expressed deep shock and sorrow at the tragic death. An event has also been been created to protest the murder. People expressed their anger and demanded justice in thousands of Facebook posts.
A group of students of Dhaka University (DU) yesterday brought out a procession and demanded exemplary punishment of the persons responsible for the death of Nusrat.
Students under separate banners
formed a human chain and demanded that the guilty be put on trial. The Bangladesh General Students" Rights Protection Council (BGSRPC) – which spearheaded the quota reform movement – brought out a protest procession and formed a human chain in front of the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital. Describing the incident as heinous, the DUCSU vice-president, Nur, said: “The police of Sonagazi tried to manipulate the case. We want justice be done in the case, along with the Tanu murder and similar cases.”
The Dhaka University Students" Association of Feni (DUSAF), a platform of DU students hailing from Feni, formed a human chain and demanded the death penalty for Nusrat"s killers.
The DUCSU secretary for Liberation War, Sad Bin Kadir, sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina"s intervention. He said: “We don"t want Feni as a city of fire anymore. If Nusrat"s family doesn"t get justice, we will adopt a hard line.”
In Sylhet, cultural activists protested the killing. They demonstrated in front of the Central Saheed Minar at the city"s Chouhatta point, carrying placards demanding exemplary punishment of madrasa principal Siraj Ud-Doula and his collaborators.
The students of Rajshahi University (RU) staged a protest against the brutal killing and demanded stern punishment of the culprits, in front of the university"s Central Library, at around 11.30am on Thursday. Carrying banners, festoons and placards, hundreds of students took part. Girl students of the campus formed another human chain, alleging irregularities at dormitories of the girls" hall of the campus, at the same place around 2pm. They would launch a mass signature campaign on the campus on Friday.
Buried at her village home
Nusrat"s Namaz-e-Janaza was held after the Asr prayers on the Mohammad Saber Pilot High School grounds in Sonagazi upazila. She was laid to rest beside her grandmother"s grave at her native home in Uttar Charsandia. People from far off places came to see her for the last time. AKM Manik, Nusrat"s father, thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the doctors who tried to save her and all others who prayed for her.
“Now, I only want justice,” said the grieving father.
The distraught father made the comment when Nusrat"s body was undergoing autopsy at the DMCH morgue.
Arman Hossain, a student, said: “Educational institutions are meant for teaching. But now a principal is involved in sexual harassment. We want to justice.” Many people wore black badges.
Feni district Awami League president, Abdur Rahman, told The Independent that the main accused is the principal. “We want that he be hanged.”
Dhaka Medical College Hospital
Earlier in the day, the autopsy of Nusrat"s body was completed under a three-member medical board of the DMCH, and the body was handed over to family members.
Brig Gen Nasir Uddin, director of the hospitalm said they have kept samples for microbiology and DNA testing. “We tried our best to save her. But we could not,” he added.
Awami League expels party member
Earlier in the day, Awami League expelled one of its party members, Sohag Ahmed Bulbul, for associating and providing legal aid to the accused. Sohag was the general secretary of the ruling party"s Kazirbagh union unit. He was also the chairman of Kazirbagh union parishad.
The arson attack
On Saturday, she was set on fire by unidentified people in burqa for bringing charges of sexual harassment against the madrasa principal Siraj Ud Dowla. Nusrat, 18, appearing for the Alim exams from the Sonagazi Islamia Fazil Madrasa, died on Wednesday night at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), five days after she was set ablaze in Feni.
It was known that the principal had earlier faced allegations of sexual harassment and had been sued for cheque forgery, vandalism and arson. He was arrested, but secured bail from court.
Locals, staff members and students at the madrasa said no one at the institution dared to say anything against Siraj Ud Dowla, an expelled Jamaat-e-Islami leader backed by a section of local influential leaders. An allegation of certificate forgery was made against him after he joined the madrasa in 2000. But he managed to overcome it, using his political clout.
The High Court has said it will intervene if it finds any negligence in the Nusrat case. Her case will not be lost like Sagar-Runi "s or Tonu"s cases, the court said
A bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-al-Jalil took the decision on Thursday, after Supreme Court lawyer, Barrister Syed Sayedul Haque Suman, presented a submission to the bench.
In the submission, Suman asked for a judicial inquiry. He explained due to religious sentiments surrounding the main accused in the case — Sonagazi madrasa principal Sirajuddaula — it might be difficult for a sub-inspector to carry out an investigation properly. The court said: “We sympathise with you. The case has been handed over to the Police Bureau of Investigation (PIB), and the Prime Minister herself is monitoring the case. In future, if you feel any negligence regarding the matter, come to us, we will intervene.”
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday said that the Police Bureau of Investigation (PIB) has been asked to investigate the case over Feni madrasa girl Nusrat.
“The PIB has been instructed to investigate the incident quickly. The charge sheet in this regard will be also submitted soon,” the minister said while talking to reporters after a meeting of Road, Transport Law Implementation Committee at the secretariat.
Responding to a question about the negligence of Sonagazi officer-in-charge Moazzem Hossain, the home minister said the OC has been withdrawn as the investigation into the case is on. “If his negligence is proved, departmental actions will be taken against him. Speaking at the same programme, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the case of Nusrat will be sent to Speedy Trial Tribunal, if necessary, for its quick disposal.
“I will instruct the prosecution to take the murder case as a first priority so that the case is settled quickly,” he said. The minister said investigation into the murder case is going on and once the investigation is completed, a charge sheet will be placed before the trial court. The government will take necessary steps for quick disposal of the case so that justice is meted out, he said.
NHRC chief seeks swift trial
Kazi Reazul Haque, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman, said people were not getting justice.
Haque blamed a prevailing “culture of impunity” for criminals getting emboldened to commit such offences.
“I didn"t see any sense of guilt or compunction on the face of the accused principal,” he observed. “Swift trial is now the demand of the hour,” he added. The NHRC chief, who had visited Nusrat Jahan Rafi at DMCH yesterday, urged the authorities concerned to ensure justice to the victim. “People will lose their trust in the state, if there is no enforcement of laws,” he added. Condoling the death of Nusrat, he called her a brave human being. “She did not capitulate to sexual abuse. We must christen today as Nusrat Day,” he said.
Police remand for accused
A Feni court yesterday placed two persons on five-day remand. The two are Zubayer Ahmed, an Alim student, and Umme Sultana Puthi, an Alim examinee and niece of the accused principal.
Feni senior judicial magistrate Sharafuddin passed the order after police produced them in court and sought a week"s remand. They were arrested from their homes on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) inspector Mostafa Kamal, said, “We have come from PBI, Dhaka. Since the case is in Feni, the PBI office there will investigate it.”
Earlier yesterday, the Feni court also remanded three accused into police custody. Maulana Siraj Ud Doula, principal of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa and also the main accused, was placed on a seven-day remand. The two others—Afsar Uddin, lecturer of the English department of the madrasa, and Alim examinee Ariful Islam—were placed on five-day remand each. The same court on Tuesday had placed three others—Nur Hossain, Kefayetullah and Shahidul Islam—on five-day remand each.
What happened to Nusrat
In her statement, the victim said the madrasa principal had been harassing female students for some years. He used to lure students by promising to give them question papers before examination. If anyone did not agree to his advances, he used to harass them.
On March 27, the principal abused the victim. When she told this to her family, they filed a case against the principal. The matter was also known to other students, the victim added in her statement.
The victim said that when she entered the examination centre on Saturday, four persons asked her to go to the roof. She said the four of them were wearing veils. One of them first tried to put pressure on her to withdraw the case. When she refused, they tied her hands with a scarf. Later they doused her with something and asked her to run. When she started to run, the victim realised she had been set on fire. Earlier on Wednesday, the officer-in-charge (OC) of Sonagazi Model Police Station, Md. Moyazzem Hosen, was withdrawn in connection with the murder attempt on Nusrat.