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Justice for Marma girls

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09th-Mar-2018       
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A FACT-FINDING committee formed by the National Human Rights Commission to probe into the allegation of rape and sexual assault of Marma sisters in Rangamati found evidence of involvement of some members of the law enforcers in the crime. It is a dastardly act against teenage tribal girls and we would say whoever is responsible must be sternly dealt with. The fact-finding committee reports said at least one of the rapists of the Marma sisters who entered their homes in the remote hills of Orachari at Bilaichhari Upazila at midnight was in uniform.

A national daily reported the truth behind the allegation quoting a member of the fact-finding committee. It said overwhelming evidence bear out the fact that both the sisters - aged 17 and 14 years -- were alone at their rickety home when the intrusion took place at about 2:45am on January 22. The victims' poor parents were away at the Jhum for collecting straws to make brooms for sale. This is how the family earns its livelihood.

The late response of the law enforcement agencies against accusation that some of its members were responsible naturally gave initial credence to the rape incident. The Commission's recommendation for more investigation with representatives of the Ministries of Home and Defense makes sense. But the delay by at least one week to form the three-member fact-finding committee itself suggests an attempt to cover up. Earlier the Commission also took at least three days to open a fact-finding probe after some law enforcers allegedly took away the victims from a Rangamati hospital against their will on February 18. In fact the unfortunate girls were made victims twice -- at first being raped at home and then abducting them from the Hospital against their will where they were admitted for treatment. They made it clear in their statement that the attackers were in army uniform, although army has denied the claim. 

We must say the truth must be uncovered by more investigation and perpetrators must be punished. Unruly people -- be it in uniform or in plain clothes - can't escape justice. The victimization of two tribal girls in their home is sad and action must be taken against the unruly people before tribal make it a bigger cause.
 
The fact is that if people in uniform were involved, their act is more dangerous to seriously tarnish the image of the forces; which are stationed in the hills to give protection to people. We must ensure foolproof protection to vulnerable people in the hills.
 

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