Burned madrasa girl's family unhappy over police role

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka and Chattogram | Update:

The madrasa student from Sonagazi, Feni who was set on fire. File photoOne among the four people who set a madrasa girl on fire in Sonagazi of Feni on 6 April has reportedly been arrested.

The accused Shampa is a close relative of Siraj Ud Daula, the principal of the madrasa. The victim's family had filed a case against him on 27 March alleging sexual abuses. The burned student, who is still in a critical condition, made a 'dying declaration' to the physicians at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital before being taken into life support. In her statement she said four persons including two women had carried out the attack and one of them was Shampa.

Deputy inspector general of police's Chittagong range, Khandaker Golam Faruque, told the media on Tuesday that they had detained Shampa from Mangalkandi union on 9 April.

But the Sonagazi police station said the detainee was Umme Sultana alias Popy.

These contradictory statements cast doubts over the arrest of Shampa. While DIG Faruque was asked on the contradiction of the two police statements, he said Popy and Shampa was the same person.

The family of the madrasa student said, they could not rely on the local police administration. The police have been trying to hide the actual incident of the attempted murder of the girl and tried to change the case statement as well, they alleged.

Family members of the girl at DMCH Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit said that an investigation should be carried out to know whose interest was being served by the Sonagazi police station officer-in-charge Moazzem Hossain.

When asked why they cannot trust Moazzem, the victim's brother told Prothom Alo that the OC on 27 March had termed the case a concocted one, saying the victim had 'made up a drama'. Their family was constantly being threatened, too, he added.

Around one and half hours prior to the attack on his sister, Afsaruddin, an English teacher of the madrasa, threatened the family to withdraw the case, said the brother.

Thirty hours after the incident, the OC told the media that there would be investigation to know if this was a suicide attempt or a murder attempt.

The victim's family members also said that Iqbal Ahmed, a sub-inspector of Sonagazi police station, took an interview of the victim on 6 April taking permission from the physicians of DMCH Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit. He recorded the interview and let them listen to it.

But on Tuesday, it was discovered that the statement in which police took the signature of the victim's brother had some information missing. The incident of tying the girl up before setting her on fire and the names of several crucial defendants were omitted.

In the first statement, nine were named excluding the principal and including four anonymous women. Later at the protest of the victim's family, councilor of Sonagazi municipality No. 4, Maqsud Alam, an alim student of the madrasa, Jobayer Ahmed, and hafez of madrasa owned hefezkhana, hafez Abdul Quader, were named.

Several inhabitants of the area said the police station sent them messages asking not to join in any demonstration against the principal.

The OC Moazzem Hossain, however, denied the allegations stating he never said the girl had tried to commit suicide.

When asked, DIG Faruque said there was no scope to neglect such an issue and legal steps would be taken against the responsible ones.

Four have been shown arrested and sent to the court of Feni Tuesday. Senior judicial magistrate Sharaf Uddin granted five-day remand for each of the four -- Nur Hossain, Kefayet Ullah, Saidul Islam and Alauddin -- all of whom are known as the principal's men.

According to sources in police, during an interrogation the detained madrasa office assistant Nurul Amin revealed that another allegation of sexual abuse was brought against the principal earlier, but the issue got lost after a probe committee was formed.

The principal called in three girl students to his office on 27 March. One among them was allowed to enter the room. As the principal pressed calling bell after some time, the assistant went on and found the girl (who was later set on fire) sitting on the floor leaning her head down. As he took her out of the room, she started crying seeing her two friends.

Sonagazi union council chairman Shamsul Arefin said the attack on the girl was premeditated and added the principal has a group of cadres who were involved in the incident.

The physicians at DMCH carried out a surgery on the madrasa girl on Tuesday to make her lungs functional.

"We have conducted the operation keeping her on life support," Brigadier General Nasir Uddin, a director of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), told newsmen at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of DMCH on Tuesday.

Nasir Uddin said the burned girl is facing a number of complications. Alongside blood and lung infection, she has developed problems in her kidney.

Quoting Singapore physicians, he said she could not be taken abroad for treatment in such a critical condition. A group of physicians from Singapore General Hospital are due in Dhaka on 14 April on a pre-scheduled programme. They will visit the girl at that time.

[Prothom Alo's Sonagazi correspondent also contributed to this report]

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