Vol. 5 Num 44 Sat. July 10, 2004  
Front Page

Imam lets muezzin beat his wife

An imam of a city mosque let his underling beat his wife black and blue right before him Tuesday night for her failure to meet his dowry demands and not giving nod to his intended second marriage.

Hafez Maulana Saiful Islam, imam of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital Jame Mosque, and his assistant Aman Ullah looked on nonchalantly while muezzin Abdul Kader assaulted and critically injured Sabina Islam, wife of Saiful, in the mosque.

Sabina's father Sirajul Islam filed a case with Ramna Police Station Wednesday under the Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Act accusing Saiful, Kader and Aman. Of them, police yesterday evening arrested Aman from the mosque. The other two are absconding.

In reaction to the arrest, a gang led by Kashem, president of BSMMU Hospital workers' union, last night staged a showdown with Sabina in the hospital, where she is undergoing treatment.

Witnesses said five angry men, apparently instigated by the imam, tore medical reports of the bruised woman and snatched away other documents from her. Before leaving the scene, they ordered the doctors to immediately release her from the hospital and her family members to vacate the imam's living quarters.

"We are living under awful pressure and constant fear of assault from them," said Sabina's sister Shahida Akhtar, who is looking after the victim's two children, Shammi and Sakib, in absence of their mother.

Shafi, a BSMMU employee, confirmed, "Saiful and his men are threatening with death to whoever tries to help the poor woman and her kids."

Narrating her sad story to The Daily Star yesterday evening, Sabina said Saiful had started brutalising her to exact dowry just a couple of years into their 15-year marriage.

"He would demand dowry and I would be compelled to seek and bring it from my father," said Sabina, "as, otherwise and if I failed, I was made to suffer severe and relentless beatings and psychological torture."

So far she has paid her husband Tk 1.5 lakh in cash. But there was no let-up in the torture, which rather had intensified over the years.

Two months ago Saiful had sought permission from Sabina to marry again, which she naturally turned down, "Who would agree to such a proposal?"

The frustrated clergyman, who locals say is an activist of ruling coalition member Jamaat-e-Islami, became furious and quit living in their house adjacent to the hospital. The man started to stay put with his colleagues in their second-floor quarters of the mosque, and stopped giving household and educational expenses to his family.

"Tuesday morning, I went to the mosque with my children to collect money to send them to school. But he refused to give any, and kicked and shooed me away," Sabina said.

"As he didn't come home, we went to the mosque once more in the evening. After waiting about two hours, I saw Abdul Kader, the muezzin, was preparing his bed in the mosque. I asked him why he was letting my husband stay with them there, instead of persuading him to go back to his family. At this, Kader became furious and started to hit me," she poured out the disgusting details.

"To everyone's surprise, Kader grabbed me by the neck, beat me, struck my head repeatedly on the wall and tried to throw me over the veranda railing of the second floor," she said between sobs. "My kids who tried to save me and stopped me from falling from the veranda were also beaten by the cruel man."

Ten-year-old Shammi said, "My mother fainted on the scene, vomiting blood. But no-one came to her rescue, since she was the imam's wife," adding, "Our domestic help and I rushed her to the hospital."

Six-year-old Sakib, a kindergarten student of Government Laboratory School, said, "I have stopped going to school since thenů My father doesn't come home to look after us or visit my mother at the hospital."

"I was so ashamed to see my husband look on while another man was beating me in front of him," Sabina said. "And now he is saying he can't accept me any more as his wife, as another man has touched me."

She suspects, "He probably has already taken a second wife, without my consent, and tried to do away with me."