The Ballad of a Flower Not Allowed to Bloom

By Audity Falguni

"In our opinion, death was due to asphyxia followed by internal hemorrhage, as a result of throttling followed by head injury and she was raped which was ante-mortem and homicidal in nature".

No, readers! Don't get puzzled. This is not any anti-novel climax draft of the "hungry" author Suvimal Mishra. This is simply a medical report.

Nearly two years before, on a fine morning of 24th August, 1995, some indigenous people (Saontals) and two or three workers of the BRAC office found the corpse of a young girl on the Dinajpur-Thakurgaon highway. Her face was aslant towards west and hands wide apart, her forehead had swelling and a deep cut in skull. Her right jaw was bruised, her kamiz torn down the right armpit. She was out and out blood stained and the hips of her salwar were wet (puritan readers might shout: cut! obscene! your Majesty...this is simply a medical report).

Thus, on 24th Aug. 1995, we found the "deep cut in skull-kamiz torn-wet salwar Bangladesh". That on 23rd August afternoon, 1995, a girl as named "Bangladesh" or a country as named "Yasmeen" rode on a Dhaka-Thakurgaon coach, just to see her mother Sharifa Begum in Keradangi, Dinajpur. That poor 14-year-old domestic worker got down with a co-passenger youth at Dash Mile bus stop, where she took some milk and bread at a tea-stall and waited for another bus to reach her mother's residence. It was approximately at 4:00 am of night, a police patrol van and ASI Mainul, Constable Sattar-Amritlal arrived at the spot. Police van: state or the state-mechanism, administration, coercive madness of the ruling class, "puppet" government police van, or better to say, the state-mechanism forced Yasmeen to go with them claiming that they would reach her safely to her destination (as our state-mechanism is always too weeping for the integrity of the "soil" and the "virgin"). Capture of the girl resulted in rape in the morning cab. The ravished country, then jumped from the running cab. The police personnel, being alarmed, further picked her up and recognising as "dead," left the corpse on the highway.

The successive series of incidents were more frightening - cruel! Neither the "hungry" script of Goddard-Mrinal-Gautam, nor the angry "Guernika" of Picasso, on the "Black Africa" of Tutu-wala Defining one's own-self in the reality of the insane time, it was Dafadar Velu of the Uttor Govindpur Union, who filed the case of an unnatural death in Dinajpur Kotwali (UD case No 85/95 GD No 953), approximately at 6:30 am, 24th August. Though Velu's GD was accepted but his signature was taken in a plain white paper and he was not made reading out of what has been written. However, in the meantime, the accused police personnel filed a "false" unnatural death case (GD No 957), saying, the girl died out of jumping from running cab. As if it were to establish this false statement, ASG Jahangir Alam arrived at the spot, intentionally unclothed the girl and examined her sexual organs with a stick before the crowd. Later on, the body was moved to the hospital for autopsy. The physician concerned Dr Md Mohsin issued an intentional medical report, determining the "jump" from the van as the prima facie cause of her death although opining that the "sexual organ" of the deceased was congested after the completion of this fabricated post-mortem report. The dead body of the girl was buried at SK Jahangir Graveyard as an unidentified one by the help of Anjuman-e-Mofidul Islam. By 24-25th August, Dinajpur police succeeded in discovering an identity for the girl: the local daily "Tista" described Yasmeen as the floating prostitute "Banu." However, Dinajpur city went on trembling with a number of processions and demonstrations owing to resentment amongst all sections of people, political parties and social organizations. It flared up to such an extent that 17 persons died at Dinajpur (27-28 August) and curfew was imposed.

On August 29, Yasmeen's body was exhumed for a second autopsy. On August 30, second autopsy report disclosed that Yasmeen died of gangrape. Homicidal case was filed against three police personnel U/S 302/376 of Bangladesh Penal Code and U/S 6(4) of Women and Child Repression (Special Provision) Act, 1995.

You know, Yasmeen's law is that black buffalo, whose horns can be turned too easily, as depending on the muscle power. Hence a new scenario of anarchy was revealed before our eyes. If it were not anarchy, then why should two concrete years be wasted for the mere declaration of the judgment, particularly when the case was so vividly direct, involving rape and murder? 30th August 1995-31st August 1997: 2 solid years. Although the three criminals, who have raped and murdered you have been declared to be hanged on, but those who tried to cancel and destroy the necessary "documents" of the crime committed towards you - how could they be relieved per honourable discharge? Even if the story did end here! Now the rapist-culprits are asking for appeal. Hearing is going to be held within a few days in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court... everything getting entangled, 24th August 1995-31st August, 1997: Let me sum up all the sloths and anarchies our legal system has presented to you:

(1) Approximately at 6:30 am., while Dafadar Velu expressly wished to file a GD, his signature was received in a plain, white paper and he was not made reading out what had been written. This is explicit violation of S 154, CrPC.

(2) Issue of false and fabricated medical report by Dr Mohsin (24th August). Hasty burial of Yasmeen as an unidentified corpse.

(3) 25th August, 1995, local daily "Tista" described Yasmeen as prostitute. Press release from Home Ministry tried to establish that jump from the cab was the root cause of her death.

(4) August 30, homicidal case was filed against three police personnel U/S 302/376 of Bangladesh Penal Code and U/S 6(4) of Women and Child Repression (Special Provision) Act 1995.

(5) Although this case was a UD case at first and on receipt of the post-mortem examination, FIR was lodged on 4.9.95, the investigation officer started the recording of depositions U/S 101 of the CrPC. And that in the midst of the investigation the case was handed over to the ASP, CID Zone, Bogra, Mr Mahfuzur Rahman, for investigation. He received the case record from Senior A S P Dinajpur, Md Afzal Hussain on 29.12.95. Thus we see that more than five months had been required for completing the investigation, while S167 of the CrPC gives a precise provision for completing an investigation within a reasonable time. If the investigation can't be completed within 24 hours, then the police officer is authorised to investigate the matter within a "reasonable time."

(6) September 3: A second murder case against three police personnel was filed by Manbadhikar Bastabayan Sangstha, Dinajpur Unit.

(7) September 12: Sammilita Nari Samaj demanded the removal of Home Minister for his failure to protect the dignity and security of women. They also demanded publication of the report of the inquiry committee.

(8) August, 22: Yasmeen rape and murder case was transferred to Rangpur.

(9) August, 24, 1996: Sammilita Nari Samaj observed the day as "Women Repression Resistance Day" to protest against all oppression against women.

(10) September 27, 1996: Trial of Yasmeen rape and murder case starts at Special District and Sessions Court at Rangpur.

(11) November 10: Court framed charge against all the accused in the Yasmeen murder case. Court framed charges against the three principal accused under Section 6(4) of the Women and Child Repression (Special Provision) Act and against the other accused under Section 201/34 of Bangladesh Penal Code.

(12) At the time of court proceedings it was seen that lots of evidences were needed to be produced by senior Assistant Superintendent of Police Md Afzal Hossain and public prosecutor but they failed to produce those evidences.

(a) Mr. Afzal Hossain recorded the statement of three principal accused but he did not examine Abdullah-Hel-Baki (duty officer of that police station at that time). In GD No 957, there is no statement as to cognizable offence against any person.

(b) Mr Afzal Hossain did not hold any TI parade in respect of identification of the accused, Moinul-Amritlal-Sattar.

(c) Though Dr Md Mohsin was an accused in the case but his name was not included in the FIR.

(d) Many prosecution witnesses could not describe actually what happened at the time of incident, because they had to make depositions two months later, for example, prosecution witness-2 Sree Joyonto Kumar could not remember whether the police who got down from van were in uniform or not.

(e) March 13, 1997: Barrister Amirul Islam was appointed as special Public Prosecutor by the Law Ministry to submit arguments.

July 30: Court concluded deposition of witnesses. Total 47 witnesses were examined and cross-examined.

After two long years of delay, the judgment of sensational Yasmeen rape and murder case was delivered by the District and Sessions Judge Abdul Matin, Rangpur on 31 August, 1997. By this judgment, main three culprits were sentenced to death while the other six (i.e., OC Motiur Rahman, ASI Jahangir Alam, Swapon Kumar Chakrabarty, SP Abdul Mottalab, Amritlal and Abdus Sattar) were acquitted because all these persons, in eyes of law, committed no material illegality or irregularity in respect of holding the inquest and investigation as to the death of Yasmeen.

The over-all case-study shows that although the "Women and Child Repression Act 1995" holds provision for the completion of any investigation process within 60 days, still 210 additional days were expired for the entire investigation work. It provided large scopes for the concealment and destruction of "alamats" resulting in honourable discharge of the "Gentlemen" criminals.

All we know is, two appeal hearings are going to be held in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Yasmeen issue. One is filed by the defendants to quash the execution order and the other made by the State against those accused under S/201/34, of a penal code for destruction of necessary evidence.

The "helpless" judgment of the Seema Chowdhury murder case is still before our eyes. Hence we appeal and caution our noble Judiciary, that, the criminals should not be enabled to make the proper use of the loopholes of our legal system.

Source: The Daily Star, Dhaka, February 17, 1998