Although it had been assumed that the student charged with the murder of teacher Utpal Kumar Sarker in Ashulia was a minor, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has now revealed that he is, in fact, 19 years old.
After identifying the suspect as Ashraful Islam Jitu, the RAB said the date of birth mentioned in his registration card for the Junior Dakhil Certificate exams did not match the one in the case statement, reports bdnews24.com.
“Following Jitu's arrest, the law enforcers collected his Junior Dakhil Exam Certificate from his college, which mentions his date of birth as Jan 17, 2003. According to that certificate, he is now 19 years old, but the case dossier says he is 16,” RAB spokesman Commander Khandaker Al Moin said on Thursday.
Tenth-grader Jitu attacked Utpal Kumar Sarker, a lecturer of political science in the institution, with a stump during a cricket match on Jun 25. Utpal succumbed to his injuries at Savar’s Enam Medical College Hospital two days later on Jun 27.
The incident sparked massive outrage as locals and students staged protests demanding Jitu's arrest. They also raised questions about Jitu's age being recorded as 16 in the case.
The criminal justice system in Bangladesh requires people under the age of 18 to be tried as juveniles, leading some to wonder whether Jitu was gaining an unfair advantage by being identified as a minor.
RAB official Moin said that Jitu had faced many disruptions to his academic life. Initially, he was admitted to a regular school but then his family forcefully put him in a madrasa when he was in the second grade.
“He was pulled out of the madrasa and readmitted to a school in grade nine. Also, his education was hampered by to his reckless lifestyle.”
The RAB published Jitu’s name as a suspect after they confirmed that his age was 19.
"RAB collected [Jitu’s] certificate from his college principal. The investigation officer will now conduct a thorough probe," said Moin.
RAB arrested Jitu from Nogarhawla village in Gazipur’s Sreepur Upazila on Wednesday.
The law enforcers later revealed that the teen suspect sought a friend's help to go into hiding amid a manhunt.
After the attack, Utpal’s brother Ashim Kumar Sarker filed a case over the incident.
As the incident began to gain publicity, the tenth-grader of Haji Yunus Ali School and College went to his friend’s place at Nagarhawla Village in Gazipur’s Sreepur Upazila.
Multiple teams of law enforcers conducted raids in different parts of the country to arrest the suspect, including in Manikganj and Kushtia.
Jitu went into hiding in Gazipur's Sreepur with the help of a friend. His friend said he had not known about Jitu's role in the killing when he offered him a place to stay.
He was arrested by RAB on Wednesday.