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     Volume 6 Issue 39 | October 5, 2007 |


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Reflections

The Right to Being Safe

Elita Karim

Dewan Rahat Karim, a young life extinguished on the street.

On September 30, students of North South University formed a human chain in the middle of the streets in front of the university's campus buildings in Banani. Dressed in black, the students were carrying signs silently protesting the cold-blooded murder of their professor Dewan Rahat Karim. The signs carried the students' demand for a proper investigation and the arrest of Karim's murderers. The whole street seemed to have come to a standstill, while students and teachers alike gathered outside to join the silent protest and pay respect to the memory of Karim, popularly known as 'DrK sir' on campus.

Popular with the students and colleagues alike, Dewan Rahat Karim, in his mid-thirties, taught Accounting in the School of Business. The running semester, Fall 2007, had been his fourth semester. Almost immediately after joining North South University, Karim became quite popular among his students. “It is impossible to actually stay awake in an accounting class,” says Shatadru, a BBA student of the NSU. “But DrK sir made everything seem so easy and fun. It is obvious that an accounting class would have plenty of assignments every week, but it never felt like he was pressurising us. However, he would still manage to get all the assignments and work done on time by everyone of us.” At the beginning of the semester, students would be seen scampering around to sign for Karim's accounting class, which happens to be a core course for a student of BBA. “His classes would always be filled,” says Shatadru.

On September 25, the police found Karim's dead body near the Army Stadium at around 8:45 pm. According to newspaper reports, he was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) where doctors declared him dead at around 10:00 pm.

That evening, after having his iftar with the some of the NSU officials and professors, he taught the last class of the day before heading for home. According to sources and news reports, Karim was attacked by muggers in the area, and strangled to death. Morgue sources said that they found balm and powdered chilli in Karims eyes and face, indicating that his assailants were members of the 'malam party,' who forcibly puts toxic ointment into their target's eyes and snatches their belongings. The criminals took Karim's mobile phone and money. When his family members called his cell phone at around 9:00pm, they found it switched off. They called Karim's in-laws at Nakhalpara in Tejgaon for help. Karim's in-laws went to the Gulshan Police Station, where they were informed that the police had taken an unconscious man from near the Army Stadium to DMCH.

Despite the appearance of law enforcing agents all over the city, there have been quite a few incidents of muggings with the victims being physically assaulted, drugged, blinded by chemicals or chilli or even killed. Police patrol has been increased in the last few months at different points of the city, according to the police authorities, in the hope of decreasing the number of thefts and street crimes.

A human chain by NSU students demanding justice for their teacher and for more safety on the streets.

Like many other areas in Dhaka, Banani, in the last few months has become a danger zone where several incidents of mugging and other street crimes have occurred. Essentially known as a residential area, the increase in the number of private educational institutions in the area has made Banani one of the few campus areas of the city. Students and teachers have been attacked by 'malam' parties and 'agyan' parties while going back home after class. Most incidents occurred inside a taxi or a CNG driven autorickshaw.

A couple of months ago, Selina Ahmed (not her real name), a former teacher of North South University, who worked at an NGO in Banani was returning home to Mohammedpur on a CNG driven auto rickshaw when she was attacked by muggers. They along with the driver of the vehicle were strangling her with her own scarf, while stuffing a piece of cloth inside her mouth, stifling her cries of pain. Selina was more than ready to give away everything she had on her, but the muggers would not listen to her pleas and eventually threw her on the street, after rubbing in their chilli mix into her eyes. Selina could not open her eyes for hours and had to be admitted and kept in the hospital for four days.

In Delwar Rahat Karim's case, the muggers managed to kill him and also get away after doing so. His eyes had been rubbed by a chilly mix ointment, he had been badly beaten up and strangled to death.

As the investigation goes on into the case, several questions have come up. For instance, was Karim found dead on the road or was he left neglected by the doctors at DMCH for two hours, which led to his death, as some close to the victim have alleged? Reports have quoted family members as saying that the incident that took place was much more than a mere case of mugging. There might have been a possibility of animosity and enmity at his workplace or elsewhere.

But according to students and friends, Karim was someone who could win the hearts of anyone he would meet. Not only was he a cheerful and good human being, he had also been an efficient guide to the students of North South University. The silent protest that was held by the young students, last week, were to demand the answer to the question: Will the murderers who killed DrK sir ever be found and punished?

 

 

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