Children falling victim to parental discord

SM Selim, 34, and Mahmuda Haque, 33, were married for about 14 years. The couple had two children. Recently it was alleged that Selim killed his wife Mahmuda and elder daughter Sanja Marwa, 10, by mixing sleeping pills with milk.

The accused has already given a confessional statement, said police.

Prothom Alo correspondent talked to Mahmuda's family at Anandanagar of Badda in the capital on 21 June.

Mahmuda's uncle, Sohel Sikder, revealed that Selim had illicit affairs with multiple women at various times. This caused frequent conflict between Selim and Mahmuda. Selim recently became involved in another extramarital affair. Mahmuda confided in her mother and sister about this matter recently.

The couple has another 9-month-old child Sarim Marwan. Mahmuda's mother Jui Begum is taking care of the child.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, she said Sarim has been continuously crying since the death of his mother.

Analysing 23 reports on suicides and murders including children, published in Prothom Alo between 2018 and 2023, it was found that children are being brutally murdered killed due to parental discord. Parents have killed their children due to their extramarital affairs, anger and sometimes "to teach the other partner a lesson or to take revenge".

Of the cases, three incidents were of murders of wives and children over extramarital relationships. Committing suicide after killing children has been suspected in five incidents. Depression from economic crisis and conflict led to killing of wife and children in three incidents. In two cases, wife and children were murdered over suspicion. In one incident, wife and children were murdered to implicate others while nine incidents of murder of wife and children took place from other conflicts.

A section of people are suffering from isolation. Because of this, they do not feel love to their children and family members. Children can easily fall victim to such persons

Of the 23 incidents, there was an allegation that a woman was involved in killing of her husband and daughter. Besides, in three incidents it was found that a woman and her child were murdered for refusing a marriage proposal in Bogura in 2018. In an incident in Pabna in 2020, a man and his wife and the couple's adopted daughter were murdered at home. This incident was suspected as robbery. In June this year, mother and daughter were killed due to financial conflict at their home in Noakhali.

Sleeping pills mixed with milk to kill wife

Speaking about a case filed over the murder of Mahmuda Haque and Sanja Marwa, Badda police station inspector (operations) Nur Alam Siddique on 21 June told Prothom Alo Selim was engaged in an extramarital affair.

In the confessional statement he said he mixed 30 sleeping pills with milk to only kill his wife. He had no idea that his daughter would also drink the milk. Selim is now at Dhaka central jail in Keraniganj.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Mahmuda's mother Jui Begum said, "My daughter would say, 'I will not commit suicide. If you hear I have died, that would mean I was murdered.'"

"My daughter endured torture only to protect the family. She loved the family and so was not willing to leave," she added.

Mahmuda and her daughter were murdered in a flat of Orchid Jamshed Tower in Badda. Selim inherited two flats and two shops in that building.

Jui Begum was saying repeatedly, "I have no money, will I get justice?" She also said she and Sarim Marwan would return to their village in Munshiganj.

Murder to frame others, for financial crisis and conflict

The bodies of Rahima Begum, 35, and her two children Rabbi Sheikh, 13, and Rakiba Sheikh, 7, were recovered from Belabo upazila in Narsingdi on 22 May 2022. Later Rahima's husband Gias Uddin Sheikh confesses to police about killing his wife and two children to implicate his cousin over a land dispute.

The plaintiff in the case, Rahima's younger brother Md Mosharrof Hossain told Prothom Alo that Gias killed his wife and children at night and fled to Gazipur. Later he phoned Rahima's relations and shared a fabricated story.

Mosharrof said the case is in the stage of recording the statements of witnesses.

When accused Gias Uddin's younger brother Reju Sheikh was contacted over phone, his wife Farida received the call. She said Gias confessed to the killing. He is now in Narsingdi jail.

An allegation was brought that a man named Asaduzzaman, a resident of Gheor in Manikganj, stabbed to death his wife Lovely Akhtar, 35, and two daughters -- Chhoa, 16, and Kotha, 12.

Later in the confessional statement under section 164, Asaduzzaman said he killed the three due to family conflict caused by debt.

Investigation officer of the case Manikganj Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) sub-inspector Md Aminul Islam said the investigation is at the final stage.

On 15 October 2021, bodies of Sumita Khatun and her son Sun, 3, hanging from the ceiling fan, and daughter Moon, 7, lying on the bed were recovered from the 4th floor of a building at Panchlaish in Chattogram.

A case was filed against Sumita's husband Sohel Rana on charges of instigating suicides.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on 24 June, husband of Sumita's cousin, also sub-inspector of special wing of Sirajganj district police, Md Azmal Hossain, said Sumita's family is poor. Sumita got GPA-5 in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC).

Due to poverty, Sumita was married off to Sohel who recovered from a mental illness.

He said Sohel opened a shop of herbal medicine and earned a lot and even bought a house in Chattogram in a very short time. There was a suspicion that Sohel had illicit relations with another woman.

Child murder

On 16 May 2020, hanging body of a man named Hafizul Islam, 30, was recovered in Rangpur. Bodies of his wife Fatema Begum, 25, and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter were lying on the floor. There were knife injury marks on their throats. The couple had been fighting for a few days ahead of the incident.

Earlier, on 17 December 2018, an allegation was raised against a man named Mainuddin Sardar who committed suicide after killing his wife Fatema Begum, 24, daughter Mithila, 5, and son Siam, 1, over family feud. Ahead of the incident, he posted on Facebook that he would commit suicide.

When asked, police headquarters' media wing assistant inspector general Md Monjur Rahman said it cannot be said that such incidents are on the rise. Sometimes, incidents increase and sometimes decrease. In every case, police take legal action.

According to human rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), 2,913 children have been killed between 2018 and May 2023. Of them, 388 children were killed within the family sphere. Of the victims, 676 children were below 6 years.

ASK collected the information from nine national dailies and through its own process.

Dhaka University sociology department professor Amanullah Ferdous said a section of people are suffering from isolation. Because of this, they do not feel love to their children and family members. Children can easily fall victim to such persons, he added.

Amanullah Ferdous also said financial gain is getting priority over social, cultural and religious values among some people in the society. Relationships become unimportant compared to money. As a result they do not feel bad killing their children. Such crimes are on the rise like other crimes due to lack of implementation of laws and delay in implementation.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam