Killing by 'Hercules' a panacea for rape?

Mansura Hossain . Dhaka | Update:

Prothom Alo illustrationBullet-ridden bodies of accused rapists have been found at different spots across the country and these killings, according to the police, are commonly attributed to 'Hercules'.

A note reading "a rapist deserves this fate" is found hanging around the neck of each dead man. This is a new trend after suspects in various crimes as well as political activists were murdered extrajudicially in the recent past.

Every time through such 'discretionary' killing, a section of people, especially victims of certain crimes, breathed sighs of relief when the principle of the rule of law was flouted.

However, rights activists, lawyers and even some in the law enforcement agreed that rapists must be brought to justice.

And shooting dead the persons accused of rape is in no way acceptable in a civilised society, they insisted.

Eminent jurist Shadeen Malik expressed his views that the rule of law would be irrelevant in the country if such unlawful killings continue.

"The rapists have to be brought to book if we want them to fear punishment," the Supreme Court lawyer told Prothom Alo.

He pointed out that those who are involved in killing the accused rapists, do not admit to the murder by 'Greek god Hercules'.

A man was found shot dead near an abandoned brickfield in Rajapur of Jhalakati on Friday. The police identified the deceased as Rakib Molla, 20, the prime accused in the gang-rape of a 13-year-old madrasa student of Bhandaria in Pirojpur.

The police claimed they found a note hanging around Rakib's neck that read, "I'm Rakib who raped the madrasa student in Bhandaria of Pirojpur. The rapist deserves this fate. Rapists be aware...Hercules.”

Three of such incidents have been detected so far after the first case in Savar in 18 January, in which the body of one Ripon contained a note: "I am the prime accused in a rape case."

When asked, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) deputy commissioner Farida Yeasmin termed such incidents of killing of rape accused as mysterious, and said the rape suspects will have to be tried. "Such killings are not acceptable."

Apart from the three mysterious death incidents of rape suspects, one more accused in a rape case was killed in what the law enforcement authorities called crossfire.

Prothom Alo analysed some 5,000 rape-related cases that were lodged between 2002 and 2016 and dealt with by five tribunals for prevention of women repression in Dhaka district.

Punishments were given in only three per cent of the settled cases, the newspaper found.

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam expressed concern at the recovery of bullet-hit bodies along with notes.

"We can't accept it. We want punishment of the rapists," she told Prothom Alo.

She wondered why the rapists would show such 'magnanimity' by admitting to the crime in a note issued before his death which is not normal either.

Emphasising that nobody should take the law in his or her own hands, former adviser to the caretaker government, Rasheda K Chowdhury observed that the police personnel could unearth who are actually carrying out such killings if they want.

* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla online, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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