When Das initially went to police to file charges,he said,police were reluctant to register the case. “Police told me that it was a false case,” Das said. “They also said that it was a fabricated drama. Police spoke with my daughter in filthy language and showed prurient interest in the details of the incident in front of us rather than filing the case quickly.”Area Assembly of God (AG) pastor Sento Mir requested that the local denominational chairman encourage police to file charges. Following a phone call from him on Friday (May 2), police immediately agreed to investigate the incident and filed a rape case in the afternoon.Area Muslims expressed their outrage at the brutal incident, and they are afraid that the assailants are backed by powerful people, Das said.“We know Motilal Das as a good man in the locality, though he is a Christian,” said a Muslim neighbor, 42-year-old Ruhul Amin, who owns a tea stall in the nearby area. “He had not any personal clash or enmity with others in the village.”Mir, the AG pastor, said Das will not be able to return to the area unless justice is served.“If the arrested rapist is not judged properly and is released from jail without any judgment,Motilal Das cannot live in this area,”Mir said.“He along with his family members should leave the village, otherwise they will be in serious trouble.”Likewise, he added, if the identified absconding rapist is not caught and convicted, the family will no longer be able to live in the area.
Bangladesh on ‘Watch List’
The day of the rape, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) announced annual recommendations for countries to be designated “Countries of Particular Concern,” but it did not include Bangladesh.Rather, the commission put Bangladesh on its “Watch List” due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.Other countries on the Watch List are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, and Nigeria.According to USCIRF, Islamist radicalism and violence, the threat of serious violence and continued discrimination against members of religious minority communities remain significant concerns in Bangladesh.