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‘Police harassed and abused me all night’

  • Published at 11:52 pm July 5th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:56 pm July 5th, 2018
Moriom Mannan Farah, sitting at the centre, addressing the press briefing organized by the female quota reform activists in front of Ruqayyah Hall of Dhaka University on Thursday, July 5, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

A female quota reform activist, who was reportedly molested by Chhatra League activists, points her finger at the police too for harassing her during a 27-hour-long detention

Twenty-seven hours after her detention, Shahbagh police on Tuesday released a female activist of the ongoing quota reform movement, who was reportedly molested by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists.

However, at a press briefing on Thursday, Moriom Mannan Farah, said she did not know the youths who had molested her near Central Shaheed Minar on Monday when she was trying to save Faruk Hasan, a joint convener of Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Council, from being inhumanely beaten.

But she claimed that she was mentally tortured and harassed by both male and female officials at the Shahbagh police station all night until her release the next afternoon.

“The police officials, who are supposed to uphold the law, tried to charge me with solicitation, and under the Narcotics Act, calling me a yaba-addict,” she said at the briefing organized by the female quota reform activists on Thursday in front of Ruqayyah Hall of Dhaka University.

“They called me a whore, and tried to force me to confess that I was part of something bigger than just the quota reform movement. But I refused.”

Moriom, a first year student of political science at Tejgaon College, claimed that police did not release her when her family members came to the police station.

“Even the policewomen at the station were calling me names, mentally torturing me, and they did not let me sleep all night inside the dirty room where I was kept.”

“I was released on Tuesday afternoon. The police station felt like hell as long as I was there,” she said.

Moriom Mannan Farah being molested by men identified as Chhatra League activists near Central Shaheed Minar on Dhaka University campus on July 2, 2018 l Dhaka Tribune

Moriom, who lives with her family in the city’s Bashundhara Residential Area, was reportedly picked up by Chhatra League activists during the Monday attack on quota reform activists on DU campus, and was then taken to Shahbagh police station.

A photo of her, showing her trying to protect Faruk from the brutal Chhatra League attack, went viral on social media soon after the incident.

The attackers were identified by the media as Chhatra League leaders from different units of the Awami League student wing based in DU.

“I had no idea that had happened. But some police officials at the station found the Facebook pictures taken during that attack and tried to undress me to see the rest of my body, all the while saying I had become a star,” Moriom told reporters.

“I had no idea that I would be humiliated like this there. I thought I would be safer at the police station from the youths who molested me.”

‘You want to know where I was touched?’

At the beginning of Thursday’s press conference, Moriom said she had gone to the Shaheed Minar to join the other activists of the quota reform movement, continuing across the country since February.

“I did not know Faruk bhai. But when those youths attacked and started beating him barbarically, I had to try and protect him. Even normal humans protect a stray dog from being beaten. And this was a human being beaten in a worse way. I just tried to save him.”

She said: “I tried to take him away on a rickshaw, but they snatched him from me and took him away on a motorcycle. After that scuffle, I got into an auto-rickshaw to go home. But those men surrounded the vehicle and then forcibly got in.”

Moriom Mannan Farah comes under attack while trying to protect Faruk Hasan near Central Shaheed Minar on Dhaka University campus on July 2, 2018 l Dhaka TribuneWhen a reporter asked what happened next, Moriom screamed: “You want to know what they did to me inside that auto-rickshaw? Which parts of my body they touched when they took me to Shahbagh police station? You want to know so much that you are asking me that? You haven’t seen what they did to me outside?

“I won’t be able to tell even if I wanted to. It was hell for me.”

She said: “If I had done something wrong and the police detained me, it would have been fine, because I broke the law. But I did not. So, why would these men do this to me? I did not even know which party or organization they belonged to.”

Hours after the attack in front of Shaheed Minar, Faruk Hasan and two other joint conveners of the Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Council, were detained by the Detective Branch of police on Monday.

The next day, they were sent to jail by a Dhaka Court in connection with two cases – one case for vandalism at the DU vice-chancellor’s residence, and the other case for assault on policemen.