Local politics had played a role in the fatal arson attack on Nusrat Jahan Rafi following her refusal to drop sexual abuse charges against the principal of her madrasa, a top police officer has said.
Deputy Inspector General SM Ruhul Amin is referring to the demonstrations organised by rival leaders of the ruling Awami League in favour of and against principal SM Siraj-ud-Daula after his arrest on March 27 for alleged sexual harassment.
DIG Ruhul is heading an investigating into alleged negligence of duty by police in Feni’s Sonagazi before and after the teenaged girl was burnt on April 6, an attack police say was orchestrated by Siraj from jail.
“Local politics is linked with the Nusrat incident. Two councillors from a party organised human-chain programmes for and against the principal,” Ruhul told the media in Feni on Thursday.
Maksud Alam, a ward councillor of Sonagazi Municipality and acting general secretary of the ruling party’s Sonagazi unit, allegedly backed the demonstrations demanding Siraj’s release. The party expelled him after he was arrested in a case over the murder of Nusrat.
Sonagazi Upazila Awami League Organising Secretary Sheikh Abdul Halim Mamun, who is also a ward councillor, supported the programmes demanding punishment of Siraj.
Siraj, a former Jamaat-e-Islami leader accused in different cases over sabotage, retained his control over the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa with the help of Awami League leaders, according to locals.
He had been close to Mamun before switching sides to win Maksud’s support, some residents of the area said.“The principal has had a bad history and the members of the governing body were in the know. Such an incident would not have happened had they taken steps against him,” DIG Ruhul said.
Another female student brought allegations of sexual harassment against Siraj on October 3 last year, but the incident was concealed.
In 1996, the Salamatia Dakhil Madrasa in Feni’s Daulatpur had expelled him on charges of raping a boy.
He had been in jail earlier in 2014 in connection with three cases over sabotage charges.
The Jamaat had expelled him in 2016 following allegations of misappropriation of funds, the party’s Feni district unit chief AKM Shamsuddin said.
The teacher then built connections with the Awami League leaders to continue his misdeeds, locals said.
Upazila Awami League chief Ruhul Amin was made a member of the madrasa’s governing council in this process devised by Siraj, they said.
Some of the teachers, requesting anonymity, said they could not speak against Siraj because he has links with the ruling party leaders and doing so could earn them their wrath.
Both Mamun and Ruhul Amin denied the allegations of backing Siraj, bdnews24.com reported.
Sonagazi Police Station OC Moazzem Hossain has faced intense criticism for his comments in a video statement of Nusrat on the sexual abuse allegations.
Moazzem, who was later transferred, has also been sued on charges of circulating the video on social media.
“OC Moazzem is being investigated. We’ve spoken to many people. OC Moazzem will of course be brought to justice if his negligence is found in handling the Nusrat incident,” DIG Ruhul said.
The Police Bureau of Investigation is investigating the Nusrat murder case while DIG Ruhul is heading a five-member team to check whether there had been negligence on the part of police before and after the attack and what can be done to prevent such incidents.
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