Thursday, September 19, 2019

Madrasa principal's niece among five who set fire to Nusrat, says PBI

  • Liton Haider, Chief Crime Correspondent
    Published: 2019-04-16 00:37:04 BdST

Five people, including the principal's niece Umme Sultana Popi, were present on the madrasa's rooftop when Nusrat Jahan Rafi was set on fire, the Police Bureau of Investigation, or PBI, has confirmed.

The identity of the assailant whom Nusrat had named 'Champa' on her deathbed has now been confirmed as Popi, said Feni PBI's Additional Special Police Superintendent Moniruzzaman.

"At least four people clad in burqa carried out the attack that day. It's certain that one of them was a woman," PBI chief Banaj Kumar Mazumder told a media briefing two days ago.

On Monday, he told, "Although we initially found four names who were present at the time of the attack, the investigation confirmed that there were actually five people on the rooftop. Two of the five were women."

A female student of a madrasa in Feni was admitted to the DMCH’s burn unit on Saturday after she was set on fire in reprisal following sexual abuse charges against the principal. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

Of the two women, one was madrasa principal SM Siraj-ud-Daula's neice Popi, who was arrested on suspicion by police, despite her name not appearing in the case, said Feni PBI official Moniruzzaman. 

Nusrat's brother Mahmudul Hassan Noman had started a case against eight suspects and four other unidentified assailants clad in burqa.

Nusrat, while receiving treatment in a critically burnt state, had said that a few burqa-clad people had poured kerosene on her body before setting her afire. She could not recognise her assailants as their faces were covered. But she heard one of the assailants being referred to as Champa.

PBI officials had sought to verify if there was anyone indeed named Shampa at the scene who might have been referred to as 'Champa'. After arresting and questioning the majority of suspects in the case, the PBI have now confirmed that it was in fact Popi who had been referred to as Champa during the incident in a bid to conceal her real identity.

"Despite arresting Popi as a suspect in the case, there remained doubts as to whether her name was Shampa or not," said Moniruzzaman.

"But the probe revealed that Shampa was in fact Popi. The assailants as part of their ploy referred to her as Shampa which Nusrat mentioned in her statement."

Following the attack on Nusrat, police arrested Popi as a suspect on Apr 9 and held her in custody for questioning.

Nuruddin and Shahadat Hossain Shamim confessed to their involvement in the arson attack leading to the death of madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi in their testimonies before a Feni court on Sunday.

Nusrat was sitting the Alim exams, an equivalent of the HSC, at Feni's Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa this year.  She had an exam on Apr 6 as well.

According to Nusrat, when she arrived for the exam, a burqa-clad woman tricked her into going to the madrasa's rooftop by saying that her friend Nishat was being physically assaulted there.