Friday, June 13, 2008

Religious persecution: Rape-Murder of Christian schoolgirl in Bangladesh


Bangladesh: Please raise your voice!

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury


For Bituni Ashru De Silva, a Jehovahʼs Witness Christian minority schoolgirl, being gang raped wasnʼt enough; she had to be killed in the end. Rapists poured poison in her mouth first to kill her. She was rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment, by none, but her own mother, Sima D Silva, who had also been raped by culprits. Sensing Bituni Asru D Silva may survive and testify in court of the notoriety, the gang of culprits came back to the hospital and suffocated the girl till they were sure that she was already dead. Local police station refused to register murder case, although specific allegation was lodged by the victims father James D Silva. Inspector General of Police, Noor Muhammed, instead of taking action against the culprits, passed objectionable remarks, saying both Bituni and her mother were ʽprostitutesʼ.


The incident in brief is, terrorists led by a member of influential Muslim business family in the locality broke into their home on the night of April 30th 2008. As Sima D Silva [mother of Bituni] came out of her bedroom, they pressed a gun at her and grabbed her. And they took their turn in raping her in front of her daughter, Bitumen [a ʽAʼ student at eight grade].

After Bituni came forward to try to save her from further degradation, they took Mrs. Sima De Silva into the bathroom and kept her inside. And then they started raping her 14-year-old daughter. At one stage, they poured some poisonous liquid inside Bituniʼs mouth, and, left her barely conscious body on the floor.

Mrs. Sima D Silva telephone her husband, James, who was in
Dhaka, and informed him of what happened. Meanwhile, she had taken her gang rape victim daughter to the local hospital for treatment and care. Bituni Asru D Silva started recovering at a slow pace. And was making good progress.  She was also got her speech back and begun speaking clearly up until 9 am.

The gang of rapists Mehdi [24], Dulal [28], Russel [20] Sohail and Jessim managed to arrive at the hospital and were found near Bituni. As the hospital staff had become aware of the gang rape incident, Mehedi and his gang used some pretext and persuaded Bituniʼs mother [herself a gang rape victim of the same men] to go out to buy some essential medicine for Bituni. This gave them the chance to the gang for choking Bituni to death. When Bituniʼs mother came back with the medicine, she found that Mehedi and his men sitting quietly and watching the unconscious body of Bituni on the hospital bed. The desperately helpless mother started frantically shaking Bituiʼs body while these men quickly sneaked out of the room.

Following this horrific incident, Mrs. Sima D Silva made calls from a cell phone to inform the local news paper staff and the law enforcement authorities that Mehedis have killed Bituni by choking her to death in the hospital.


Mr. James D Silva complained that when he went to the police station to file charges, he found that Bhumulia Uion Parishad Chairman, Mr. Abu Bakar Banu, acting on behalf of the accused and pressuring him to drop the charges. As well, he was hurling profanities at Mr. James D Silva right inside the grounds of the police station. Police refused to register a murder case, while a case under Women and Children Repression Act was already registered. Case No. FIR No.04/88, Dated 05/05/2008.

Mr. James further complained that he found out those five days after the incident, the local police officer in charge, Mr. Khandakar Sisthan, has made up a case by himself without any consent of the D Silvas. The Officer in charge has also entrusted himself with the responsibility of investigating the case.


The matter has already drawn attention of some local and international organizations. But, because of endless persuasion by the influential thus affluent family of the perpetrators, as well as questioned stand by the Inspector General of Police, it is rather a very big confusion as to whether this incident would at all get into proper investigation or the culprits get punishment. It is further learnt that the local police administration is heavily compensated by the affluent family of the attackers.


Family of Mr. James D Silva is now in extreme danger. Rapists and murders are continuing to give threats of raping his other daughters, any time. The entire family fled the village and is now passing days in extreme terror in Dhaka. Mr. James D Silva, head of the victim family can be contacted at 0171-1955640. Leader of Christian Development Alternative, William Gomes [Cell phone number 0191-2342809] and Human Rights Forum [0181-9407963] are constantly monitoring the case. A protest rally will take place at 9:30 am on Tuesday [June 17] at the village in Kaliganj, where the incident took place.


Persecution of religious minority groups in Bangladesh is very unfortunately increasing in past several months. This specific case is just one amongst many, which are even not reported in fear of trouble or social obstacles. But, this reported case of rape and murder of Bituni Asru D Silva as well rape of her mother Sima D Silva is gradually turning prominent internationally.


Bangladesh government needs to immediately look into this matter. Inspector General of Police, Noor Muhammed should be questioned for his dubious role. If necessary, he should be removed from the post of IGP for such notorious behavior. Family members of James D Silva deserve protection. This is not only to save a Christian family from further persecution, but for the sake of salvaging image of Bangladesh.

Journalist, Columnist, Author & Peace Activist
Editor & Publisher, Weekly Blitz
PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005; AJC Moral Courage Award 2006
Key to the Englewood City, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007

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