2008-05-09 09:12:45 UTC
DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 8 (Compass Direct News) – Muslim villagers in
Mymensingh district eager to rid the area of the Christian work of a
local pastor have gang-raped his 13-year-old daughter, the girl's
Pastor Motilal Das of United Bethany Church said that at around 3 a.m.
on Friday (May 2) the villagers sexually assaulted his daughter, Elina
Das, and left her unconscious in front of his house in an attempt to
drive him and his Christian ministry out of Laksmipur village in
Fulbaria sub-district, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the
Local residents have long been angry with him for his ministry and
evangelism, he said, and he has received death threats.
“I did not pay attention to any of the threats or hindrances – I
continued evangelical and pastoral activities with prayer,” Das told
Compass. “They targeted me to evict from this area to stop the
Christian activities. When nothing stopped me, then they wanted to
leave me scarred for life, so that I would be upset and not be able to
show my face to the society for shame, and therefore I would leave the
Das, who became the first Christian in the area in 1986 and has been
key in an increase to more than 250 Christians and the emergence of 12
churches, said the brutal attack was pre-planned and calculated to
stop further expansion of Christianity in northern Bangladesh.
“Otherwise, why would they rape such a minor girl?” he said.
Elina Das is the only Christian student at her school, he said.
“Always local boys used to tease her on her way to school,” he said,
“and used to tell her filthy words against Christianity and western
Five villagers attacked her when she went from her thatched house to
an outdoor latrine, said investigating officer Sanwar Hossen of
Fulbaria police station.
“Five people lying in ambush in the pitch-dark near the toilet
snatched her by gagging her mouth with her body scarf [and taking her]
to a nearby tea stall, 400 meters from the house, where they gang-
raped her,” Hossen said.
Besides the religious opposition of some residents, the officer said
villagers had no personal or commercial conflicts with the Das family
that could serve as a motive for the assault.
“There was no family vendetta or personal clash or enmity of Motilal
with the local people for which his daughter would be raped,” Hossen
said. “There was even no land dispute between him and the neighbors,
because he does not have any land.”
Family members found Elina Das lying unconscious in front of the house
“When I woke up in the early morning, I saw my daughter lying
unconscious in front of my house,” Das said. “ A few hours after the
gang rape, they had left her in front of my house.”
Das said he suspected friends of the rapists and perhaps some of the
rapists themselves observed them as they went to the police station to
file charges, as they later threatened to harm them if they did not
withdraw the case, he said.
“I have received death threats against my entire family if I do not
withdraw the case,” Das told Compass. “We, all the family members,
were afraid and took shelter in the same police station, where my
wife, daughter, son and I stayed for two days and one night.”
Elina Das has identified two of the rapists and could identify the
others if she saw them or their pictures, said Das. Police have
arrested Shebul Miah, 22. The girl identified another suspect, 32-year-
old Dulal Miah, alias Dulu, who remains at large.
Fearful of his life if he returned to his home, Das relocated to the
home of a friend in Dhaka on Saturday (May 3).
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
“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
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