Christian, human rights advocates call medical exam report false.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, February 19 (Compass Direct News) – Christian and human rights advocates said doctors likely fabricated a medical report that falsely concluded there were no signs of rape in the wife of a Bangladeshi pastor whom village Muslims have now threatened for pressing charges.
The Rev. Shankar Hazra of Chaksing Baptist church in Gopalganj district, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Dhaka, said influential area Muslims have used threats to try to force him and his wife to withdraw charges of robbery and rape; he delined to name them out of fear of reprisals.
“If I do not withdraw the case, they said they will make a ‘Ganges [river] of blood’ here,” Rev. Hazra said.
Resident medical officer Dr. Ali Akbar of Sadar Hospital in Gopalganj told Compass that a report given to police on Thursday (Feb. 12) stated that a medical examination indicated the wife of Rev. Hazra was not raped.
“There was no sign of forceful intercourse in her body at the time of examination, which means the victim was not raped,” Dr. Akbar said.
Rev. Hazra told Compass that villagers said the examining doctors had been paid to falsify the medical report.
“I heard from some people in the locality that 50,000 taka [US$740] had been given to the doctor to twist the report,” he said.
The pastor accuses area Muslims of tying him up, robbing their living quarters at the church property and gang-raping his wife on Jan. 6. Rev. Hazra said that before leaving, the assailants also desecrated the church building.
Human rights advocate Rosaline Costa, coordinator of Hotline Human Rights in Bangladesh, told Compass that she would not trust the medical report.
“What my long experience as a human rights activist says is that these sorts of medical reports are always distorted by the accused if the victim is poor or a minority,” she said. “Police and medical doctors are influenced financially to give negative reports.”
Such false medical reports are a common phenomenon in Bangladesh for both minorities and also for poor majority people, Costa said.
“The victim is very poor and a minority Christian, so the report could be manipulated by the doctors,” said Costa. She said a DNA test not subject to bias would be conclusive.
The Rev. Milton Biswas, general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha, also suggested a DNA test.
“I am gob-smacked and shocked at how the report became false,” he said. “She might not have been raped, but a DNA test is needed to say whether she was raped or not.”
Rev. Hazra, 55, said he and his 45-year-old wife had gone to a toilet outside their home at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 6 when a man suddenly thrust a rifle at him. Seven or eight people tied him to a pillar on the porch, blindfolded his wife and took her inside the house, he said.
After the assailants had robbed the house of valuables and raped his wife, Rev. Hazra said, he managed to untie himself and found his wife lying unconscious on the bed.
Rev. Hazra and his wife said all of the assailants were Muslims, but that villagers tried to implicate non-Muslims and portray the attack as resulting from internal conflicts among Christians.
Police, influential villagers and local Muslim-owned media are trying to conceal likely anti-Christian motives for the crime, he said, by falsely accusing two Christians and a Hindu of participating. Police wrote the First Information Report (FIR) implicating the Christians and Hindu based on lies from villagers, and Rev. Hazra signed it without reading it due to his shaken state, he said.
Rev. Hazra’s wife, Depali Hazra, later filed an affidavit contesting the FIR in which the two Christians and one Hindu, along with a known criminal who is Muslim, were accused of the gang rape and theft. The Christians and Hindu were not involved in the rape and robbery, she reported in the affidavit.
“I was seriously ill after [the] gang rape, and my husband’s mind was unhinged at that time,” she reported. “Only [the] Muslim man Ilias Mridha and his yes-men did it. When I recuperated a little bit from illness, I came to know about the names of the Christians and Hindu in the case. Spontaneously and knowledgably I did this affidavit to get rid of those Christian and Hindu names from the case copy.”
Local Christians said Mridha, 38, who has been jailed several times, commits crimes under the direction of influential Muslims in the area.
Report from Compass Direct News