Take immediate action against those who set the girl on fire


All too often in Bangladesh, criminals get away with grave misdeeds and it is women who are victims of such unfortunate lapses in the system. They are victims of rape, gang rape and killings after rape, but most of them never receive justice. It is often even dangerous for them to seek justice. The brutal consequences of seeking justice against such heinous crimes are there for all to see in the recent incident of a girl being set on fire in Sonagazi, Feni.
Yesterday’s Prothom Alo gave certain details about how this madrasa student faced unspeakable barbarity when she went to rake her exams on Saturday morning. She was told that one of her friends was being beaten up on the roof of the administrative building. When she went there, four or five masked persons poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Seventy-five per cent of her body has been burnt and she is now struggling for her life in the Dhaka Medical College Hospital burn unit.
The girl was apparently set on fire for having sought justice for being sexually molested by the madrasa principal. According to her family, the principal, Maulana Siraj Ud Dowla called her to his room on 27 March and sexually abused her. Her mother later filed charges against him under section 10 of the Women and Children Repression Act. The principal was arrested but some of his people started putting pressure on the girl’s family to withdraw the case. Her brother said that the madrasa’s Chhatra League unit president Shahadat Hossain threatened them over phone on Friday night, saying she would be killed if they continued with the case. The Feni district Jamaat-e-Islami amir said that Maulana Siraj Ud Dowla has at one time been a rokon of Jamaat, but had been expelled in 2016. That means that the former Jamaat rokon is now being protected by the ruling Awami League and its student front Chhatra League.
The student has clearly stated that she was set on fire because of bringing charges against the principal and refusing to withdraw the charges. Such barbarity is beyond imagination. Those who set fire to her must be arrested immediately and punished.
The Sonagazi police station officer-in-charge said that they are investing the incident seriously. We want to point out how this victim was seeking justice, only to fall victim of vicious crime again. Justice must be ensured and the criminals must be punished.

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