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Remembering Yasmin: a tragedy not forgotten

  • Published at 01:57 pm August 24th, 2020

On August 24, 1995, fourteen-year-old Yasmin Akhtar was gang-raped by policemen, and later brutally murdered

People of Dinajpur and other parts of the country have been observing the 25th death anniversary of Yasmin Akhter. The day is popularly known as Yasmin Tragedy Day.

The day, being observed as a day of ‘Prevention of Violence against Women” for the last 25 years, was recalled by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and different women’s organisations, cultural and non-government organisations (NGO) around the country.

In Dinajpur, the day was marked through a mourning procession, wearing of black badges, a placing of wreaths at the memorial dedicated to Yasmin at Dosh Mile, offering of special prayers and discussions.

The gruesome death of Yasmin had opened people’s eyes and exposed the fragile structure of a society that tolerated gender-based violence, said speakers at the human chain arranged by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Dinajpur unit.

The blatant act of blocking investigations into the teenager’s killing and creating barriers to justice being done clearly showed how society was helpless before violence against women, said Dr Marufa Begum, general secretary of the organisation.

On August 24, 1995, fourteen-year-old Yasmin Akhtar was gang-raped by policemen and later brutally murdered. After the incident, thousands of people in Dinajpur took to the streets and laid siege to Kotwali police station demanding punishment for the policemen behind the brutal act.

In a bid to disperse the outraged crowds, police indiscriminately opened fire that killed seven innocent people and injured over 300 others.

Yasmin, a domestic maid who was working at the residence of a middle class family in Dhaka, slipped out of her employer’s house and boarded a bus for Dinajpur to see her parents. She got down at Dosh Mile bus stoppage in the predawn hours of 24 August 1995.

Seeing the girl alone at a tea stall at the bus stand, a police patrol van approached her, the policemen insisting that she get on the van. Yasmin hesitated to board the police van. At that time some people gathered on the scene, but one of the police constables reprimanded them.

The policemen then assured the crowd that they were law enforcers and they would drop the girl at her home safely.

Hours later, the girl was found dead beside the main road.

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