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Bangladeshi court awards death penalty to ex-Madarsa headmaster and 15 others for burning teenager Nusrat to death

19-year-old Bangladeshi teenager Nusrat Jahan Rafi was burned to death with the help of her own classmates after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her madarsa headmaster.

The women and children repression prevention tribunal in Feni, Bangladesh, where judge Mamunur Rashid was hearing the case on a fast track basis, awarded death sentence to 16 people involved in the murder of a 19-year-old student, Nusrat Jahan Rafi in April this year. The death sentences will be sent to Bangladesh High court for confirmation.

Amongst the guilty were former headmaster of the Madarsa Sirajuddaula against whom the teenager had filed a sexual harassment case and other teachers and pupils. 12 out of the 16 accused had confessed to participating in the killing in which the teenager was lured on to the school’s roof, doused in kerosene and set ablaze.

After the verdict, defence lawyer Giasuddin Nannu said all the 16 convicts will file appeals within seven days while Nusrat’s brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman expressed satisfaction and demanded immediate execution of the judgement.

On April 19 we reported that one 19-year-old Bangladeshi teenager Nusrat Jahan Rafi was burned to death after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her madarsa headmaster. As per reports, on March 27, she had complained that the madarsa headmaster had called her into his office and repeatedly touched her inappropriately.

Nusrat had managed to escape and went to a local police station to give her statement. Unfortunately, the policemen filmed her when she was retelling her traumatic experience which was later on leaked to local media. Following this, she started facing abuse and threats. While the police arrested the headmaster on March 27, things got worse for Nusrat as a mob led by two male ‘students’ and local politicians gathered on the street to demand the release of the headmaster.

Despite fearing for her life, Nusrat went to school on April 6, 11 days after the traumatic incident, to sit for her exams. A fellow female student asked Nusrat to accompany her on the roof, where four-five people, on directions of the principal who molested Nusrat, wearing burqa started beating her up and started pressurising her to withdraw the case against the madarsa headmaster. When she refused, she was set on fire by them. As per reports, they wanted to make it look like a suicide, but when Nusrat was rescued, they fled the scene.

According to the investigating officer, one of the killers was holding her head down with his hands and hence they weren’t able to pour kerosene there because of which her head was not burned. Nusrat recorded her statement on her brother’s phone while she was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. “The teacher touched me. I will fight this crime till my last breath,” she had reportedly said.

Around 80 per cent of her body was burnt. After fighting for her life for five days, Nusrat succumbed to her injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10, which triggered a huge public outcry across the country prompting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to promise speedy action in the case.

Fifteen people, including a woman who allegedly poured kerosene over Nusrat, had been arrested of which two men had confessed to her killing. Both were studying at the same madarsa Nusrat studied at and were also leaders in the Bangladesh Chhatra League unit at the madarsa. Investigations have also revealed that they met the suspended headmaster, Sirajuddaula in the jail to receive instructions for Nusrat’s murder. One of the accused, Shahadat, who has confessed to the crime, said that he was eager to be part of the murder because she had refused his advances a few months prior.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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