Dhaka University explodes in protests as student is raped in dark, bushy place of Kurmitola

Daylong protests have rocked Dhaka University as police have spotted the dark, bushy place beside Airport Road in Kurmitola where a student has been raped.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 6 Jan 2020, 07:24 PM
Updated : 6 Jan 2020, 08:23 PM

Students continued protests throughout Monday on the campus, at Shahbagh, and Kurmitola while police’s Criminal Investigation Department or CID collected evidence from the scene, which remains dark after sunset as most of the streetlights do not work.

The evidence included a pair of the student’s sandals, her scarf, watch, notebook, key ring, an inhaler and pants, according to Sudip Kumar Chakrabarty, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

“The place is not much secluded, but bushes behind a big tree provide some cover,” he said.

Rumana Akter, a special superintendent of police in the CID, said they collected a total of six pieces of evidence from the scene.

Earlier, the physicians of Dhaka Medical College Hospital found evidence of rape on the second-year undergraduate student of the university.

Some of the assault marks were “made by the rapist himself” while the others occurred due to the crime scene, Dr Sohel Mahmud, chief of the hospital’s Forensic Medicine Department, told bdnews24.com.

“A mark of abuse found on her neck suggests that the rapist pressed her down by grabbing her throat. She was also kicked and beaten by him,” the doctor said.

DNA tests will be done on her to confirm whether there was any other culprits, he added.

The student boarded the university’s bus to travel to her friend’s house on Sunday to prepare for the exams. An unidentified man gagged her immediately after she got off the bus in Kurmitola at 7pm. He then took her to a nearby secluded place and violated her. The girl lost consciousness at one point.

After she regained consciousness at 10pm, she visited her friend’s house by autorickshaw and told her about the incident. Later, her classmates arrived and took her to the university’s hall. She was admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital after midnight.

Students of Dhaka University formed a human chain at the altar of Raju Memorial Sculpture on Monday demanding justice over the rape of an undergraduate student of the university in the capital’s Kurmitola. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

Several teachers, including Vice-Chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman and Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani, visited the student at the hospital.

“We are shocked. We stand by her family. It’s our first job to give her mental strength,” the VC said, promising all measures necessary to ensure justice.

ASM Maksud Kamal and Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan, president and general secretary of Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, respectively, demanded the rapist’s trial in a statement.

“As teachers, we are shocked, pained and angry at such brutality against a student, who is like a daughter to us,” the statement said.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also promised swift justice. All the law-enforcing agencies were investigating the incident, he said.

The victim’s father started a case with Cantonment Police against an unidentified person, said Kazi Shahan Haque, chief of the local police station.

 

The incident has sparked protests in parts of the capital. Students marched down or occupied some key roads to demand punishment to the rapist.

Angry students blocked the Shahbagh intersection to protest against the rape on Sunday.

Students of Dhaka University demonstrated blocking the Shahbagh intersection on Monday demanding justice over the rape of a second-year undergraduate student in the capital’s Kurmitola on Sunday evening.

Traffic on several adjoining roads from Shahbagh came to a standstill around 12pm due to the protests. The students demanded justice and capital punishment for the ‘rapist’.

Md Sifatul Islam, who studies philosophy at the DU, began a hunger strike at the altar of Raju Memorial Sculpture around 4am. The demonstrations intensified after more students gathered around the Raju Memorial Sculpture around 10am.

The leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League also joined the protests. Several organisations staged protests and formed human chains as well demanding justice.

Sheikh Kanta Reza, a student of disaster management who joined a sit-in at Shahbagh, said, “The authorities have failed to ensure our security, now they must ensure justice.”

A Dhaka University student demonstrates on the street holding a placard at Shahbagh intersection on Monday demanding justice over the rape of a second-year undergraduate student in the capital’s Kurmitola. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

Nurul Haque Nur, the vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union or DUCSU, blamed the “culture of impunity” for the incident.

“Now it has become a trend that you must take to the streets, block Shahbagh, or mount agitation in the university to ensure justice over any incident. Otherwise, no trial is held,” he said.

Following a procession of students carrying candles in the evening, DUCSU Assistant General Secretary and BCL leader Saddam Hussain announced protest programmes for Tuesday. DUCSU General Secretary Golam Rabbani was also present there.

Prgatashil Chhatra Jote, an umbrella platform of the leftist student organisations, took out a torch procession.

A group of students also visited the crime scene in Kurmitola and formed a human chain blocking a stretch of the Airport Road, disrupting traffic for sometime in the afternoon.

 

‘LONE RAPIST AT A PERFECT PLACE FOR CRIME’

Locals said the around 300-metre stretch between the gates of Kurmitola General Hospital and Army Golf Club is a mugging hotspot as it remains dark after sunset thanks to the lack of streetlights.

Bushes cover the footpath along the secluded roadside spot, preventing one from seeing through clearly.

It is difficult to differentiate any sound there due to vehicles passing by at high speed.

Vinyl World Group had won the contract to set up a “digital” passenger shed at the spot and for its beautification.

Contacted for comments on the bushes grown there, its owner Abaid Mansur said he would talk later as he claimed to have been driving. He did not take bdnews24.com phone calls afterwards.

Priyanka Biswas, a resident of nearby Joar Shahara, said people often get mugged at the spot.

“Muggers took away my aunt’s golden ornaments here some days ago. It’s a perfect place to commit a crime. No one comes here in the dark after sunset,” she said.

Quoting the victim, her friends said she took the sidewalk by mistake after alighting the bus at a wrong stop.

Mashiur Rahman, a deputy commissioner of police’s Detective Branch, said they have not been able to get all the information from her as the doctors did not allow them to speak to her alone.

Kamruzzaman, an additional deputy commissioner at Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the student told them only one person, aged between 25 and 30, dragged her behind the bushes.

She cried but no one heard her as it was a deserted place beside the road with vehicles travelling at high speed, he said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher