A Madrasah Student Was Burned To Death For Reporting Sexual Harassment Against Headmaster

The girl's murder was carried out by the headmaster's order.

Cover image via The Independent & Bangladesh

There is a case currently taking Bangladesh by storm over a planned murder of a 19-year-old small town girl. She was doused with kerosene and set on fire at her Madrasah for reporting sexual harassment against the religious school's headmaster.

According to a BBC report from today, 18 April, 19-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was set on fire on 6 April, less than two weeks after the alleged sexual assault.

The alleged sexual assault happened on 27 March, when Nusrat was called by the Sonagazi Islamia Fazil Madrasah's headmaster Siraj-Ud-Doula into his office.

In her police complaint, the female student had alleged that the headmaster repeatedly touched her in an inappropriate manner after calling her into his office. The 19-year-old ran out before things could go any further, reported BBC.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi while being taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Image via The Daily Star

While victims of sexual harassment in Bangladesh usually do not speak for fear of being shamed by society or their families, Nusrat was different. She decided to do more than just speak out.

The girl from Feni, a small town 160km south of Dhaka, went to a police station with the help of her family to lodge a formal complaint against her harasser, Siraj-Ud-Daula.

However, at the Sonagazi Model police station, where Nusrat had gone to lodge her report, officer-in-charge (OC) Moazzem Hossain interrogated the victim.

He asked her offensive and unpleasant questions, and later, leaked a video that the officer-in-charge had made on his phone as she described the ordeal.

In the video, while Nusrat tries to hide her face with her hands, OC Hossain is heard calling the complaint "no big deal" and telling her to move her hands from her face.

In this screenshot taken from the five-minute-long video clip, Nusrat is seen crying while lodging sexual harassment complaints against the Madrasah headmaster.

Image via Facebook

While police arrested the 49-year-old headmaster based on Nusrat's complaint, the girl's family started worrying about her safety

Nusrat started getting harassed on the street and online. She started getting blamed.

After the headmaster was arrested, a group of people loyal to him started protesting and demanded for his release. According to BBC, the protest had been arranged by two male students and local politicians were allegedly in attendance.

And as Nusrat's family feared, the worst happened on 6 April

On 6 April, Nusrat had gone to the school to sit for her final exams.

At the school, a fellow female student, Kamrun Nahar Moni, took Nusrat to the roof of the school, saying one of her friends was being beaten up.

However, when Nusrat reached there she saw that there were a group of people, wearing burqas. They surrounded her and allegedly pressured her to withdraw the case against the headmaster. When she refused, they doused her with kerosene and set on fire, local media BDNews24 reported while citing a statement given by the police.

According to her brother, Mahmudul Hasan Noman, he had tried to take Nusrat to school and tried to enter the premises, but he wasn't allowed to enter.

If I hadn't been stopped, something like this wouldn't have happened to my sister.
Mahmudul Hasan Noman.

Police believe the killers wanted "to make it look like a suicide". However, their plan failed when Nusrat was rescued and was able to give a statement before she died in the hospital five days later.

Nusrat first recorded a statement on her brother's mobile while she was in the ambulance as she feared that she might not survive.

She recorded that "the teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath" while also identifying some of her attackers as students at the madrasah.

Nusrat before being taken into the ambulance.

Image via BDNews

Police have arrested 16 people, seven of them allegedly involved in the murder, which was carried out by the headmaster's order

Among those arrested are the two male students who organised the protest in support of the headmaster. The fellow female student Kamrun Nahar Moni who took Nusrat to the rooftop has been remanded for five days.

The headmaster himself remains in custody since he was first arrested on 27 March.

According to Police Bureau of Investigation, Nusrat Jahan was burnt to death at the directive of headmaster Siraj-Ud Daula.

"The incident of Nusrat murder was carried out by the principal's order," PBI chief Bonoz Kumar Mazumdar told a press briefing at its Dhanmondi headquarters.

The suspects held a meeting at the West Hostel of the Madrasah for killing the girl on 5 April following their meeting with the Madrasah headmaster in jail.

The headmaster Siraj-Ud Daula and a team of PBI.

Image via BDNews24

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Nusrat's family in Dhaka on Monday, 15 April, and promised that every person involved in the killing would be bought to justice.

"None of the culprits will be spared from legal action," she said.

Image via Dhaka Tribune

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