Bangladeshi teenager who accused principal of rape dies after being set on fire

Protests erupt demanding justice in Dhaka

Andy Gregory
Monday 15 April 2019 09:31
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Prime minister Sheikh Hasina called for “exemplary punishment”
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina called for “exemplary punishment”

A teenager who publicly accused her school principal of rape has died in hospital after she was allegedly set on fire.

Local reports said Nusrat Jahan Femi, 18, was doused in kerosene and set alight on the roof of her exam hall by a gang of attackers.

The suspected murder has sparked outrage in Bangladesh, prompting protests and a heated national conversation around sexual abuse, with prime minister Sheikh Hasina advocating “exemplary punishment” for the “heinous crimes”.

Police have arrested eight people in connection, while the law minister said the government would ensure a quick trial in response to the demands of Nusrat’s family, BBC Bangla reported.

Police Bureau of Investigations chief Banaj Kanti Majumdar announced at a press conference in Dhaka that 13 people, including two girls, were involved in the brutal killing. A teacher was also detained.

Although principal Siraj-ud-Daula has been held in custody since 27 March over the late schoolgirl’s allegations, police findings revealed he was also implicated in the murder plot.

On 4 April, two days before Nusrat was set on fire, several people including one defendant visited the principal – who Nusrat alleged had tried to rape her in his office – in jail.

“Siraj-ud-Daula instructed them to kill Nusrat,” Mr Majumdar told the press briefing.

Before she died from her injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on 10 April, Nusrat allegedly relayed details of the attack to her brother.

Her brother opened the official case and her family said they have since received death threats.

Nusrat was due to take an Arabic exam before four people lured her to the roof with suggestions her friend was being assaulted, her brother told The Daily Star (Bangladesh).

He said: “They asked her to withdraw the case against Principal Maulana Siraj Ud Doula. As she refused to budge, one of them poured kerosene on her from a glass and set her ablaze.

“With all of her body in flames, she ran down the stairs screaming for help.”

Ongoing protests have erupted across the capital, demanding justice for Nusrat.

The conduct of local police has also come into question after a video emerged showing police’s reluctance to ensure Nusrat’s safety following her allegations against the principal.

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Moazzem Hossain of Sonagazi police station was transferred from his post on Wednesday.

Nusrat’s funeral ceremony was held on Thursday in her hometown, Uttar Charsandia. It was the largest turnout in the district, as mourners attended from across the country, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Her father, Musa Manik, said: "We are satisfied with the progress of the investigation, but a speedy trial is a must."

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