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Bangladeshi Madrassa Student Dies after Being Set on Fire in Campus Attack

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Dhaka
2019-04-10
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Abu Musa (center) reacts to news that his daughter, Nusrat Rafi, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital after suffering severe burns when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, April 10, 2019.
Abu Musa (center) reacts to news that his daughter, Nusrat Rafi, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital after suffering severe burns when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, April 10, 2019.
Focus Bangla

A female student at an Islamic boarding school died Wednesday at a hospital in Dhaka after being severely burned in an on-campus attack four days earlier when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, officials said.

The victim, Nusrat Rafi, 18, who studied at the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrassa in the Chittagong division of southeastern Bangladesh, was allegedly attacked by a group of female students on Saturday at the school.

The attack occurred after she and her family filed a complaint with police about alleged sexual misconduct by the school’s principal, identified as Siraj-ud-Daula.

“Nusrat Rafi died. We tried our best,” Dr. Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the National Institute of Burns and Plastic Surgery, told journalists at around 9:30 p.m.

Family members broke down in tears after the doctors declared Rafi dead.

“They killed my daughter,” Rafi’s mother, Shirin Akter, said as she wailed over the loss of her daughter. "We want justice."

Rafi suffered burns to 80 percent of her body, with around half of the injuries listed as deep burns, hospital officials said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered that Rafi be given the best care and be transferred to Singapore for advanced treatment.

Hours later, Rafi was placed on life support. Sen said the teen's condition did not allow for the five-hour flight to Singapore.

‘I will continue to protest’

Mahmudul Hasan, the victim’s brother, said he had accompanied his sister to the school on Saturday morning to take exams, when a burka-clad person told Rafi that her friend was being beaten on the building’s roof.

Once there, she was accosted by four others wearing burkas who told her to drop sexual assault charges against the madrassa principal, Hasan said. The suspects then doused her with kerosene, he said.

Hasan rushed Rafi to a local hospital, before she was transferred to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital as her condition deteriorated. Hasan said she told him about the people who set her on fire and about the sexual assault, adding that her complaint against the principal was genuine and she refused to drop it.

He said he taped a statement from his sibling, which can be heard on social media.

“I will continue to protest ... I will complain to the prime minister,” she could be heard saying in the message.

Officials have said that Rafi also made a recorded statement at the hospital on Sunday.

Since the attack, people in Sonagazi have formed human chains to demand that those responsible be punished.

“Rafi was a very courageous girl. She showed us how to unmask the rogues. She continued to protest even before her death. We want justice for this premeditated murder,” neighbor Abdul Quader told BenarNews in a phone interview.

Hasina's press secretary, Ihsanul Karim, told BenarNews that the premier had ordered the arrests of those responsible. Police said they have arrested seven people, including the principal.

Meanwhile, authorities on Wednesday announced that the officer-in-charge of the Sonagazi police station, Moazzem Hossain, had been removed from his post for negligence of duties. Authorities also tasked the police specialized investigation unit to complete the investigation.

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