Series of gruesome child murders shocks Bangladesh

Within weeks of a 13-year-old boy being lynched, another child was found tortured and murdered, sparking public anger.

The doctor who treated Rakib said the child's intestines were torn apart and his lungs burst causing his death [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

Dhaka, Bangladesh – As air was being pumped into Rakib Hawlader’s body, around the evening of August 3, the boy pleaded to his tormentor to stop, or else he would die.

But his pleas fell on deaf ears, as motor garage owner Omar Sharif, Sharif’s mother Beauty Begum and a man Mintu Mia, continued to pump air into his body.

Although the 12-year-old was rescued and taken to the Khulna Medical College and Hospital, 250km southwest of the capital Dhaka, he succumbed to his injuries on the same night, leaving behind his bereaved family.

Enraged locals who learned of the Rakib’s death broke into Sharif’s garage that night, caught the three suspects and handed them over to the police. People came out on the streets of Khulna demanding justice for Rakib.

The incident was the latest in a series of child murders in Bangladesh, which have shocked the nation and forced the government to take measures to stop them.

“We have arrested all the accused,” Nibash Chandra Majhi, Khulna Metropolitan Police Commissioner, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

“[The] investigation is still going on. We hope to file the charge-sheet against the accused by end of this month,” he added.

Rakib's father said that he sent his son to work to supplement the family's income [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]
Rakib’s father said that he sent his son to work to supplement the family’s income [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

The details of Rakib’s murder were told to the local media by one of his friends, who was passing the motor garage near the Tutparha graveyard in the Khulna division of Bangladesh.

In an interview with a local news website, the witness recalled how the victim pleaded for mercy from his tormentors.

“When air was being forced into his body [via his anus] with the pump, I heard him saying, ‘Uncle, please stop now, or else, I am going to die,'” the witness said.

Reports said the three suspects tortured the boy after he quit his job at their garage to work for another employer.

The doctor who treated Rakib at the hospital emergency unit said the boy’s intestines were torn apart and his lungs burst due to the pumping of an “abnormal amount” of air into his body.

Rakib’s day-labourer father, Nurul Alam Hawlader, had filed a case with police against the three suspects.

He said that one of the suspects, Begum, used to beat and swear at his son, “for any and every reason”.

Hawlader had moved his family to Khulna from Satkhira three years ago. The impoverished family lived in a shanty along a road in the city. Rakib, a student, was sent to work to supplement the family’s income.

‘Drastic measures necessary’

Child rights experts in Bangladesh pointed out that the deterioration of law and order and the failure to prosecute murder cases of children are sowing the seeds of violence in the country.

According to the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), a child rights group, at least 154 children were killed in the South Asian country between January and June, this year. In 2014, 292 children were murdered while the number was 180 in 2013.

Bangladesh lynching kills over a hundred people every year

On August 4, just a day after Rakib’s death, three-year-old Sumaiya Akhter died after being beaten by her father and mother, who tried to prove to locals that they are experts at exorcism.

Then on Wednesday, a madrassa student Robiul Awal was beaten to death, after he was suspected of stealing fish.

Children in Bangladesh also become victims of torture, rape, sexual assaults and other violations, according to BSAF.

“We believe that the tendency of torture and killing will decrease in the future, if the accused persons in past incidents are tried under special crimes tribunals and [receive proper] punishment,” Emranul Huq Chowdhury, BSAF chair, told Al Jazeera.

Recently, authorities were forced to act after public outrage was sparked over the killing of a 13-year-old boy in Sylhet district on July 8.

The lynching of Sheikh Mohammad Samiul Alam Rajon prompted protests and activists called for the guilty to be held accountable.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Meher Afroze Chumki, state minister for women and children affairs, said the government is working to “ensure justice” for the victims.

“Drastic measures are necessary now to bring about a positive change in this regard.”

Source: Al Jazeera