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Tourist raped in Cox’s Bazar,Rab identifies 3 key suspects from CCTV

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Rab yesterday identified three young men suspected of raping a tourist while their cohorts held her husband and child hostage in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday evening.

The rape incident at the country’s prime tourist destination sparked outrage on social media. Netizens criticised law enforcers for failing to provide safety to tourists.

Rab sources said the suspects identified from CCTV footage are: Ashiqul Islam Ashiq, Israfil Huda Joy, and Mehedi Hasan Babu. All of them are from Madhya Baharchhara in Cox’s Bazar town.

The woman, her husband, and their eight-month-old child went to Cox’s Bazar on holiday on Wednesday morning from the capital.

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They checked into a hotel and went to Laboni Beach in the afternoon, reports our correspondent in the district.

While shopping at a nearby market in the evening, the victim’s husband got into an argument with three men, one of whom he had bumped into, the victim told Rab after being rescued.

Her husband at one stage begged pardon and left, she said.

“Later, a group that included the three youths ambushed us near the golf course area. They threatened to stab me and separated me from my husband and child,” said the victim.

“They took away my husband and child in a CNG-run auto rickshaw and took me to a secluded place at knifepoint where they raped me. They threatened to kill my husband and child,” she added.

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She said later the men took her to Zia Guest Inn in an auto-rickshaw and gang raped her again confining her to a room on the second floor.

The rapists then left the room, locking it from the outside. They threatened to kill her husband and child if she disclosed the matter to anyone, the victim said.

The victim managed to open a window of the room and contact a hotel guest who unlocked the door.

After she called 999 and Rab-15, Rab officers rescued her around 1:30am yesterday.

The victim’s husband said, “I have apologised to them many times. I even held their hands and feet … but they did not return my wife.

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“My wife is not well now. I’m worried about her,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Suspect Ashiqul was accused in over a dozen cases, including for murder, robbery, mugging, and extortion, filed previously with Cox’s Bazar Sadar Model Police Station, said Officer-in-Charge Sheikh Munir-ul-Gias.

Joy and Babu were also accused in two and four cases filed earlier, police sources said.

Locals said Ashiqul walked out of jail on bail around three months ago.

Locals said the three men were close aides to Cox’s Bazar Zila Chhatra League President SM Saddam Hossain.

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Distancing himself from the trio, Saddam told The Daily Star last night that the men sometimes visited him since he lived in their neighbourhood.

OC Munir said the victim was being treated at a hospital.

Lt Col Khairul Islam Sarkar, commanding officer of Rab -15, said, “We have identified the rapists scrutinising the hotel’s CCTV footage and are conducting drives to arrest them.”

Rab has detained the manager of Zia Guest Inn, Riazuddin Chhoton.

Superintendent of Police in Cox’s Bazar Hasanuzzaman refuted that the victim called 999 for help. He added, “We are looking into how such an incident [gang rape] took place.”

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Forensic tests have been carried out on the victim and a case was filed accusing seven people, three of them unidentified, he said.

PROTEST ON

Women’s rights activists Shireen Huq said it is misogyny and banditry at its worst.

“That such an incident is possible is beyond one’s imagination.

“I don’t know whether to cry or to scream. All our protests appear to be falling on deaf ears.”

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The absence of rule of law gives licence for the most despicable behaviour from those who assume they are entitled to impunity, she said.

Expressing concern and resentment over the incident, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad demanded a fair probe, immediate arrest of the culprits, and security for the victim’s family.

Jatiya Nari Andolan and Sammilito Samajik Andolan also protested the incident.

ANOTHER RAPED IN BANDARBAN

Police in Lama, Bandarban, are looking for two men accused of rape and abetting rape of a pregnant woman.

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Joynal, 32, a resident of Ruposhi Para, with the help of a man who is yet to be identified, tied the 28-year-old woman with a rope and raped her early yesterday, locking her two children in a room, police said, quoting the case filed with Lama Police Station.

Shahidul Islam, officer-in-charge of the police station, said, “Two criminals entered the house around 2:30am. Joynal, a local trader, raped the woman and left the place around 3:00am leaving the woman tied to a tree. We rescued the mother after being informed. We are trying to arrest the criminals.”

The victim’s family sources said the criminals also took away valuables and gold ornaments.

(The photos of the three accused used in this story were provided by Rab)

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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