Silence is golden but eyes still see  

Mahmudur Rahman       | Published: June 22, 2018 22:14:21 | Updated: June 23, 2018 21:43:19

Sohagi Jahan Tonu was known by those close to her as a typical nineteen year old who fashioned the hijab as much as she embraced culture. The discovery of her lifeless  body in shrubs of Comilla Cantonment over two years ago captured the nation's imagination in a way the murder of the journalist couple Shagor-Runi had before that. Along with it came the sobering realisation that murder, rape and such were much closer to the doorsteps of the so called 'educated' section of society. Tonu's case stoked the emotion of sympathy and shock leaving the embers glowing. Here was a young girl who couldn't have made enemies that would exact such fitful and maddened revenge. That may sound as emotional dribble had it not been for statements by persons holding positions of responsibility and authority.

As detectives scoured the area for clues all sorts of leads--some chilling, others downright garbage -- emerged. There was one strain that sought to slight the reputation of the young woman quoted, as media put it, by investigation sources. There was another strain that suggested her death came part in response to her having denied a relationship proposal added to a suggested enmity towards her father. And then we had the very confusing third strain that suggested the murder and related events were extremely complicated and a hint that her father may have been involved. As we were informed, army authorities had cooperated fully with the investigations, responsibility of which went from the police to the Detective Branch to the CID and ultimately the Rapid Action Battalion. Twenty-six months, two post-mortems and a string of human chains later no one is any wiser.

Murder investigations by nature can be difficult and protracted. The institution of law is more inclined to allow persons with scars of doubt walk rather than punish an innocent man. That debate is even more protracted than all murder investigations put together. Nodding to all of these, some questions stick out from the sands of time like stiff lifeless, thumbs. The first post-mortem found no signs of rape or murder--as if to suggest she died a natural death in the shrubbery (if Wikipedia information is to be believed); the second found evidence of rape and three samples of semen from three individuals were traced. Who were these three? Were they questioned or arrested? Then was action taken for the major anomaly in difference in the two post-mortem reports? Tonu's father repeatedly described the state he found his daughter's body in without suggesting whether any instruments of murder were used or was it? Police acknowledged that the murder and her final state of rest were different. Her cell-phone was recovered from nearby but the call records or any other information were never revealed. Those that suggested to the media that a 'bear' may have been responsible need to come in to the open and explain since when do bears rape humans? And why wasn't there a bear eradication campaign after the incident in the area?

The two most telling propositions have been lost along the way. A civilian murder in a military cantonment is unthinkable; murderers not being traceable is unimaginable. Love him or like him former Chief Justice S K Sinha was on record as saying that this case was an extremely complicated and complex one of convoluted thinking on the part of the perpetrators. If it is one of those that treads on more than a few important toes there always lies the option of seeking out a Joe Bloke, along the lines of Joj Miah. Let the young lady sleep in peace and let the family live in some consolation. It cannot be that in the days of Close Circuit TV, entrants and exiters from cantonments cannot be identified. And DNA samples don't, can't lie.


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