Chittagong Hill Tracts: While Protests Arise Over Rape of Tripura Girl, Emerging Evidence Seems to Bolster Allegations
A national Human Rights Commission committee found evidence that at least one law enforcement official had entered the Marma sister’s house the night that they were attacked. A statement by one of the officials led the members of the committee to believe that there were officials present in the house that night, increasing the verity of statements made by the sisters that the attackers were wearing army uniforms. Meanwhile, students at Dhaka University marched from Shahbagh to the university demanding justice over the rape of a Tripura teenage girl during International Women’s Day.
A fact-finding committee formed by the National Human Rights Commission to probe into the allegation of rape and sexual assault of Marma sisters in Rangamati has prepared its report.
It was evident that at least one law enforcement agency member in uniform entered the house of the Marma sisters in the remote hills of Orachari at Bilaichhari on the night of the incident, said a committee member committee.
The sisters, aged 17 and 14 years, were alone at their rickety home when the intrusion took place at about 2:45am on January 22, found the committee.
The victims’ parents were away at Jhum for collecting raw materials for making straw brooms, they used to sell for earning a livelihood, committee members revealed.
‘The determination of what happened inside the house following the intrusion requires a thorough investigation,’ said a committee member.
The committee considered the response law enforcement agencies made to one of their members being accused of the offence gave grounds to the allegation, said the member.
The committee recommended a thorough investigation involving the ministries of home and defence.
Asked about the report, the commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said that he was yet to get it.
The commission formed the three-member fact-finding committee on February 18 giving it a week to look into the allegation and prepare a report.
The commission decision to look into the matter came three days after law enforcers allegedly took the victims from a Rangamati hospital against their will.
The victims, after being admitted at Rangamati General Hospital a day after the attack, had said that the attackers were wearing army uniform, an allegation denied by the army.
Students under Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) along with Hill Women’s Federation banners staged the protests demanding arrest of the “rapist”, one Md Alam.
Several organisations of the Chittagong Hill Districts stages protest at Dhaka University on Friday, March 8, 2018. Photo: Palash Khan
They allege, a teenager of the Tripura community was raped in Matiranga Upazila, Khagrachhari, yesterday during the worldwide observation of International Women’s Day.
The two organisations staged a protest at Shahbagh, a key point in Dhaka, and paraded through Dhaka Unviersity over demands of justice into the incident.
Tribal leader Rakhi Mrong of Bangladesh Adivasi Nari Network demanded highest penalty for the culprit. “Since 2017, 56 incidents of rape and harassment against women.”
Nipun Tripura, general secretary of PCP, said: “Women are not safe anywhere. Government laws in place cannot keep these incidents form happening. There is a culture of impunity existing.”