“Abdul… Abdul please, Ali please- I beg at your feet ,.. Yes I confess to be a non Muslim hence impure as you said, so you can have my daughter.. but please, please not together dear, she.. she is just 14, very tender, she will die, please I, I am falling at your shoes ”… a howling mother, crying out in extreme panic and helplessness before her daughter, who- unconscious by then- bracing sexual assault from 11 full grown men lying before, soaked in blood.
Ground Source Report (An excerpt from the past/ Eibela English correspondent)
October 8th 2001/ Sirajganj, Bangladesh: The feud started with a mere land dispute between a Hindu peasant with some influential Bangladesh National Party’s (popular as BNP, led by Khaleda Zia) cadres of their village. Anger was gradually assimilating in the minds of the politico-religiously influenced nexus, since it was becoming difficult for them to digest the fact that a ‘kafir’(infidel) shall persist to be the owner of a tract of land, even though with clear documentary registration.
The intention to avenge this ultimately had made them retort to the brutish move to vent their anguish upon Anil Chandra Shil’s daughter Miss Purnima Shil, a school girl of 14 then. On 8th of October, at their residence in East Delua Village under Ulahpara Police Station at Sirajganj, the hoard raided the minority family’s residence- being armed with rods and some primitive weapons. Abdul Jalil, Altaf Hossain, Hossain Ali, Abdur Rauf, Yeasin Ali, Liton Sheikh along with their 5 other mates launched a ferocious attack on the family. Mr and Mrs Shil were tied together, and inhumanly beaten to start with- using their furniture rods shoes and whatever the miscreants could get at their hand.
Post to it, their grudge was ventilated upon the Shil’s young daughter Purnima, a girl of 14 then. Purnima’s mother recounts of that bygone darkest hour in her life, as “a scene which I never imagined that any mother can bear to see ever in their life.” The attackers were laughing, calling them names, hurling unspeakable filthy loathsome remarks and abuses against their religious belief. They then in a mood of flagitious frolic addressed each other of “playing a joint game upon this mala-un’s( a derogatory local term against non muslim) daughter”.
The 11 men of ages between 24 to 55 then- simultaneously sexually assaulted her right before her parents. Purnima occasionally fell unconscious and then they sprinkled water over her and continued the barbaric act again. A panting Mrs Shil initially prayed desperately at them to let her go. When she realized that the perpetrators were in no mood to quit she howled begging for a final option to at least ‘get inside her’ one after the other. Purnima’s body drenched in blood, made her miserably yell that she is quite young, she will die.
The very next moment the attackers locked up the Shil family bringing back Purnima’s unconscious body, which they had carried away at a distance in the meantime- and left the place with the keys threatening their neighbors that anyone who comes up in aid of the family and help in publicizing this incident shall meet dire consequences. Certain social activists with the help of police upon learning over it on next morning of 9th October unlocked their house and rescued the family.
Anil Shil collecting himself up somehow tried to make an effort to get justice and arrived at the Police station to register a complain. But since the accused were from a strong political shelter, police refused to register a case against them. Even when they agreed to, it was of a land dispute complaint. The Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee brought Purnima and her parents to Dhaka, where she and her family members addressed a press conference in a local hotel. The incident received much publicity and protests from various corners were witnessed.
11 years later all the accused 11 people were awarded life imprisonment in this case, though only six of them had been arrested while the rest remained absconding. District Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal judge Osman Haidar pronounced the verdict.
The court also fined Taka 1 lakh each as a compensation for the victim’s family.
Six accused were present at the court during the final proceedings.
The incident and the following protests however failed to provide any solution for this practice of torturing minority Hindu girls here, in a country having the world’s second largest Hindu population of around 1.5 crores. Lalmonirhat, Thakurgaon, Brahmanberia, Feni, Chittagong, Nilphamari and many other places witnessed such inhumanity upon minority women and girls in the corresponding years. Pleas made, cases have been registered, human chain protests have been organized- but in a wider scale, the gradually eroding Hindu population in this land hardly received worthy justice in most crimes against them, a phenomenon which has become as if like an integral part in their daily life of misery in the land of their forefathers.