Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013

Held for Cop, Wife Murder

House help Sumi gets no attention

While Oishee Rahman remains the focus of media attention after her parents’ murder, questions are arising as to whether the parents of Khadiza Khatun Sumi, the slain couple’s house help now in detention, even know of the incident.
“No one came asking for her, neither her relatives nor any human rights organisations,” said Monirul Islam, Joint Commissioner of the Detective Branch of police.
DB police on August 18 detained Sumi, who had allegedly helped Oishee move the dead bodies to her bathroom in the couple’s Chamelibagh residence in the capital.  The prime murder accused, Oishee, in her teens, surrendered at Paltan Police Station on August 16, 22 hours after the decomposed bodies of Special Branch police inspector Mahfuzur Rahman and wife Swapna Rahman were recovered.
Sumi, a minor, on August 25 confessed before a court that she, threatened by Oishee, had helped her move the bodies. She is now under the supervision of the Children Development Centre.
Police did not find her parents in the Rangamati address that Sumi had given. Wishing anonymity, an official of the centre said Sumi could not even give any phone number to contact her parents.
“Her father used to contact Oishee’s father [Mahfuzur Rahman]. They are originally not from Rangamati. She told us that they had stayed in Narayanganj before but could not give us the exact address,” he said, adding that Sumi appeared to have worked as a house help from an early age and thus had very little connection with her family.
Monirul said Sumi had claimed her age as 15, but according to medical tests, she was 11.
In reply to whether 11-year-old Sumi can be held guilty of helping Oishee, he said the act fell under the clause of hiding evidence under the Penal Code.
But if it is proved during the police investigation that Sumi was scared into moving the bodies, her name may be dropped from the chargesheet, Monirul continued.
“As she falls under the definition of a child, we have been handling her case as per the Children Act 1974.  We have interrogated her before a probation officer.”
Fahima Nasrin, executive member of Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association, said
it was the responsibility of the probation officer to inform Sumi’s parents, her legal guardian, about her and to make sure that they were present in court every time she was taken there.
Fahima blames a lack of effort by the probation officer and law enforcers for the failure to trace Sumi’s parents 22 days into her detention.
Such a situation would not have occurred if there were a national database of all domestic workers, she added.