The High Court yesterday directed the government to conduct an enquiry against the Sonagazi Islamia Fazil Madrasa’s Governing Body chairman, in connection with the sexual harassment and murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi.
The directives came after the HC observed that had the governing body chairman PKM Enamul Karim taken appropriate action against principal Siraj ud Daula for sexually harassing Nusrat, a student of the madrasa, she might not have suffered such a deplorable consequence.
Enamul Karim could have taken necessary steps after making an enquiry into the allegation against Siraj ud Daula, after Nusrat and her mother had earlier
informed Enamul about Siraj’s conduct, the court said during a writ petition hearing.
The court also issued a rule asking the government to explain in four weeks why Enamul’s inaction should not be declared illegal.
The HC also said people’s faith and trust in teachers and institutions would be hampered due to such incidents.
The court ordered the education and public administration ministries to submit a report before it by August 20, after the enquiry, and directed the ministries to take action against Enamul if found guilty.
The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader came up with the order and rule after hearing a writ petition recently filed by Supreme Court lawyer Eunus Ali Akond.
In the petition, Eunus said that the Sonagazi madrasa governing body chairman reportedly did not take any action against Siraj ud Daula even after Nusrat and her mother went to Enamul’s office and requested him to do so, but Enamul refused and even he asked them to keep the incident a secret.
During the writ hearing, Deputy Attorney General Abdullah Al Mahmud Basher told the court that the government would take necessary steps to bring the persons responsible for harassing students to book.
On April 6, a group of people poured kerosene on Nusrat and set her afire at the Feni madrasa for refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment case against the principal.
The 18-year-old girl lost her battle for life on April 10 -- an incident that sparked outrage all over the country.
Three months before Nusrat’s incident, Siraj ud Daula was accused of sexually harassing another student, said Maulana Mohammad Hossain, acting principal of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa.
The student’s father had complained to three teachers of the madrasa about the incident.
Siraj later served show-cause letters to those teachers and announced that they were conspiring against him.
Eight months before this incident, another student also complained to a teacher about being sexually harassed by Siraj.
Siraj humiliated that teacher in response.
Other female students had also complained to a teacher about Siraj’s misconduct against them. The teacher, however, was too scared to ask the principal about the complaints.
Maulana Mohammad Hossain made these allegations yesterday before Mamunur Rashid, a judge of Feni’s Women and Child Repression Prevention Tribunal.
In his testimony, Mohammad further said the principal’s room used to be on the ground floor of the western side of the building. Around five years ago, Siraj shifted his office room to the first floor of the cyclone shelter.
“He shifted his room there to molest students.”
Another councillor of Sonagazi municipality Mohammad Yasin and Nurul Karim, driver of Sonagazi Upazila Health Complex, who took her to the Feni Sadar Hospital from the health complex, gave their testimonies before the tribunal yesterday.