Photograph by Shenjuti Dutta

Police sexually assault woman for protesting against sexual assault in Bangladesh

Paalta Aghaat:

On 10th May, a group of students protesting against several incidents of sexual assault were molested by the police in Bangladesh. The students of Dhaka University had been protesting against the inaction of the police with regards to the sexual assault incidents that took place on April 14th or Bengali New Year. 26 days ago, during the New Year celebrations, a group of men sexually assaulted several women at Suhrawardy Udayan’s main entrance. This was caught on CCTV, clearly identifying some of the perpetrators, but the police taken no action and have yet to make any arrests.

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Poster by Lucky Akter
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Photograph by Shafiqul Islam

The students, activists, several cultural and political organizations have been actively demanding the identification and immediate arrest of the perpetrators since 15th April across Shahbag and Dhaka University. When the police failed to arrest the perpetrators, the student union took the decision of conducting a gherao at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Headquarters (DMP) under the banner ‘পাল্টা আঘাত’ (Palta Aghaat).

The police claimed that they did not attack the protesters. Ramna Zone’s Deputy Police Commissioner further said, “Their blockade was creating traffic snarl. We asked them to leave and send representatives for discussions. But they were not attacked, only removed.” These images posted on Facebook by witnesses and protesters are proof that the police lied.

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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu
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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu

The pictures clearly show the protesters getting teargassed, assaulted by batons, blasted by water cannons, sexually assaulted and physically abused by the police during the peaceful protest.

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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu
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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu

Chhatra Union activist Ismat Jahan was dragged by the hair, chased after and repeatedly kicked by the police after she fell on the ground- as seen in the photos posted.

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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu

The women police present at the incident were silent observers.

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Photograph by Dipankar Kundu

The protesters were peacefully marching toward the DMP building when they were obstructed at Minto Road by police, who charged them with batons, hurled teargas canisters and then went on to blast them with water cannons. 34 students have been injured, 21 students hospitalized, and 5 student leaders were arrested who were released later.

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Photograph by Saiful Al-Amin

The Communist Party of Bangladesh and Bangladesher Shamajtantrik Dol released a statement condemning this instance of police brutality, pointing out how the government is unable to tolerate any dissent from the people: “No government can stay long defying people’s demand and walking the path of torture”.

The student union has called for a nationwide student-teachers’ strike on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015, to protest this police brutality and sexual assault.

Featured image by Shenjuti Dutta.

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