Swechasebak League leader arrested for torturing youth hanging upside down

Map of Cumilla district
Prothom Alo illustration

The police have arrested a local Swechasebak League leader in Barura upazila of Cumilla after he brutally tortured a youth by hanging him upside down from a tree on suspicion of theft.  

The incident came to the fore when a video clip went viral on social media, sparking a huge outcry. It prompted the police to arrest the assailant, Jahirul Islam, 35, member of upazila unit Swechasebak League, an associate body of ruling Awami League. 

Jahirul, also a member of Vauksar union parishad, tortured the youth -- Abdul Hannan, 32 -- at Chottapukuriya village around 10:00 am on Saturday. Later, he was arrested the immediate night.

Firoz Hossain, officer-in-charge of Barura police station, said they arrested Jahirul immediately after noticing the video clip. He should not have tortured the youth this way. 

The Swechasebak League leader was shown arrested in a case filed over the incident. He will be produced before the court on Sunday. 

Conversations with at least six residents of the village revealed that there are different types of allegations, including theft, against Abdul Hannan. The torture came following a theft at a shop in Chottapukuriya village on the preceding night. 

Locals suspected Abdul Hannan's involvement in the theft and reported the issue to UP member Jahirul. In further development, Jahirul interrogated Abdul Hannan at 10:00 am on Saturday, though the latter denied his involvement in the theft. 

At one stage, the UP member tied his legs and hanged him upside down from a tree.

The viral footage showed Abdul Hannan hanging from the tree upside down, with the UP member standing beside with a bamboo stick in hand. The youth sought help from the bystanders, but none came forward. Some of the witnesses were capturing the scene on their mobile phones. 

It created a huge buzz on social media and triggered widespread criticism. Later, the police detained Jahirul around 8:00 pm and showed him arrested in a case filed by the victim. 

In his defense, Jahirul claimed to have punished the thief to correct him. He, however, offered no justification if he has the authority to punish someone this way. 

Ahmed Zaman Masud, chairman of Vauksar union parishad, said the public representatives can not take the law into their own hands. He could hand him over to the police. 

The chairman also confirmed that Jahirul is a leader of Swechasebak League and an elected member of the UP for two terms.