Barishal woman alleges sexual harassment, torture in police custody

Prothom Alo illustration

A woman arrested in a murder case alleged that she was harassed sexually and tortured in police custody at Wazirpur police station in Barishal after she had been placed on remand for two days on 29 June.

The woman made the allegations at the court of Barishal Judicial Magistrate-3. Judge Mahfuzur Rahman took the allegation into cognisance on Friday (2 July) and ordered her health check-up under Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act.

The court also asked the director of Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal to submit the report within 24 hours mentioning marks and approximate time of torture.

Bench assistant of Barishal Judicial Magistrate-3 Nahida Khanam confirmed this to Prothom Alo on Saturday night. She also said that the court has ordered Barishal superintendent of police to investigate the murder case filed against the woman who brought the allegations of sexual harassment.

As per the court directives, a report was submitted before it from Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital yesterday, said the hospital director HM Saiful Islam. “Following the court directives, we’ve submitted the report. The woman was under treatment at the hospital. She has returned to jail yesterday.”

Court sources said a policewoman beat the woman accused of murder with a stick at the police station when she was arrested and taken there on 28 June. Later, other policemen also used sticks to beat her. The woman was placed on two-day remand on 29 June.

The woman alleged before the court that though she was not beaten on 29 June, she was taken at the room of investigation officer (IO) of the case (filed on allegation of murder) and was harassed sexually there. Then, a policewoman started beating her. At one stage, the IO himself beat her up for 15-20 minutes.

The woman also told the court that as a result of the torture she lost consciousness. When she regained consciousness she found her in a hospital bed.

IO Mainul Hossain, also inspector at Wazirpur police station, denied the allegations saying those were completely false.

He said body of a certain Basudeb Chakrabarty was recovered from a pond at Jambari village in Wazirpur upazila on 26 June. On the next day, Basudeb’s brother filed a case against a woman who lives at a house adjacent to the pond. The accused woman was arrested on 28 June. The court placed her on two-day remand on the next day. The woman was produced before the court upon completion of remand, he added.

Barun Chakrabarty, plaintiff of the murder case, said he had heard about the allegations of sexual harassment and torture the accused brought at the court. “But I don’t know anything in detail.”

Basudeb was beaten to death on the night of 25 June on allegations of illicit relations with a woman. Wazirpur police recovered the body and sent it to a morgue for postmortem.