College student Sajjad Hossain alias Shanto, 17, died reportedly drowning in a pond three years ago while visiting Mawa in Munshiganj with his step cousin. An unnatural death case was filed in the incident at Srinagar police station. Later, an investigation by the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) revealed that Sajjad was killed by a blow to the head and later was drowned in a boat. He was killed due to family feud.

In the past seven years (from 1 January, 2016 to 31 October, 2022), the PBI found evidence of killing due to family dispute while investigating deaths of 165 children like Sajjad across the country. Among them, 32 children were killed due to family feuds and 22 due to previous enmity. Apart from this, PBI has found 23 other reasons for killing children.

PBI chief additional inspector general Banaj Kumar Majumdar said, “The reasons for child murder in each upazila are different. Children are being killed even after knowing the legal consequences. Children are always supposed to be safe in the village. The reasons behind it would come to the fore if a large-scale research is conducted.”

Sajjad’s death in boat sinking

According to the investigation sources of the case, Sajjad’s mother Salma Hossain alias Chanbanu and Nayan Mia’s father Md. Musa are half siblings. Salma and Musa live in their ancestral land in Gendaria in the capital. In 2020, Sajjad sat for HSC examination from Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College in Old Dhaka. Salma forbade her son to mix with Musa and his son Nayan as she assumed they were drug addicts.

The reasons for child murder in each upazila are different. Children are being killed even after knowing the legal consequences
Banaj Kumar Majumdar, PBI chief additional inspector general

It led to disputes between the two families. Later, on 13 August of that year, Nayan and his friend Maruf took Sajjad to Mawa Ghat on a motorcycle. From there, Nayan took Sajjad to his grandparents’ house at night. At around 12:00 am, three people boarded a boat in a pond. Sajjad and Nayan had a heated argument on the boat. He hit him on the head. At this time Maruf pushed Sajjad from the boat. The boat capsized during a scuffle between the three. Sajjad drowned as he did not know how to swim.

Mohammad Emdadul Haque, inspector of Munshiganj PBI, said that in order to cover up the murder, his grandmother Hena Begum and his friend Maruf made up the story of boat capsize. The next day, the villagers recovered Sajjad’s body from the pond and an unnatural death case was filed at Srinagar police station. Later, following the plea of Sajjad’s mother, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court of Dhaka ordered to register a murder case to be filed at Jatrabari police station.

More reasons of murder

According to the PBI, previous enmity is the second leading cause of child murder after family disputes. On 1 November, 2020, school student and rickshaw-van driver Shamim Sheikh, 14, was killed and his body was thrown into Barashia river in Kashiani, Gopalganj due to previous enmity. Shamim’s body was recovered on 5 November and the police and his father Arif Sheikh filed a murder case.

The state should be strict about laws related to children. Exemplary punishment should be served for offense against children
ASM Amanullah, Professor of Sociology Department at Dhaka University

The investigating officer of the case, deputy inspector of Gopalganj PBI Sazzadul Islam, said last Sunday that Shamim’s study was stopped due to financial crisis during the Covid pandemic. He started driving the van. Vested with the investigation of the case, he arrested another van driver, Jihad Hossain, as a suspect. On remand, he admitted his involvement in the murder and said that one Shakir Ali planned to murder Shamim. Shakir was later arrested.

Sazzadul Islam said that Shamim was killed due to an argument between Shamim and Shakir while driving van in Ramdia Bazar of Kashiani. He promised to give Jihad 10,000 taka and paid 500 taka in advance. After the murder, Shakir tied Shamim’s hands and feet and threw him into the river.

PBI’s study shows that extramarital affairs and love affairs are the most common cause of child murder after family disputes and enmity. In the past 7 years, 10 children were killed due to extramarital affairs and 10 due to love affairs. Nine children were killed due to fight between husband and wife. Ten children were killed after rape.

Apart from this, seven children were killed by robbers, six were killed because of witnessing immoral relations, five were killed to frame rivals, five were killed because of sports and five were killed because of scuffles. Apart from this, 11 children were killed due to spotting thefts, failed rapes and molestation, not listening to family members, suspecting thieves, for ransom, obstruction during robbery, by housewives and madrasah teachers and senior-junior conflicts.

PBI sources reveals, out of 165 child murders, the reasons for132 killings came to light. The reason for the murder of 32 children has not been revealed due to the investigation and other reasons.

State must be stricter

ASM Amanullah, professor of Sociology Department at Dhaka University, who is in Australia, told Prothom Alo, “There is a need to change the existing laws for the safety of children. We have no idea how to give life-oriented education to children, how to teach them life skills. The state should be strict about laws related to children. Exemplary punishment should be served for offense against children.”

* The report was originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten by Farjana Liakat