DHAKA – Bangladeshi law enforcement officials said on Wednesday they had arrested a man suspected of raping a 19-year-old college student, a case that unleashed large protests at the Dhaka University campus.
The announcement came as students demonstrated at Bangladesh’s top public university for the third day in a row demanding the alleged perpetrator be apprehended and tried.
The police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion said it had identified the 30-year-old suspect, Mohammad Mojnu, after his details matched with the description provided by the victim.
“He is a drug addict and a serial rapist,” Sarwar Bin Kashem, director of the RAB’s legal and media wing, told reporters at a press conference. “He raped many physically-challenged women and beggars in different spots. He was also involved in many crimes, including mugging.”
The alleged rape occurred on Sunday evening after the victim boarded a university bus to travel to her friend’s house. However, she got off at an earlier stop by mistake in the dark.
Her attacker, who was lurking in the area, allegedly grabbed and dragged her to another bus, where he assaulted her and threatened to kill her, according to Kashem.
“He confessed that he alone committed this crime,” said the RAB official, adding that police had also retrieved the victim’s cell phone and a few others of her personal belongings during the operation.
The victim is now undergoing treatment at the One-Stop Crisis Center of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
“We thank authorities for the arrest. Now we want the trial of the accused man at a speedy tribunal,” said Mostafizur Rahman, one of the four university students who had started a hunger strike demanding the arrest of the culprit.
“We are suspending our strike until January 20,” he added. “We will protest again if we don’t see the trial was fast-tracked.”
Women’s rights group Bangladesh Mahila Parishad recorded a total of 1,370 incidents of rape, 237 gang rapes and 77 murders after rape in the South Asian country in 2019.
In addition, the organization said that 19 women had committed suicide last year in Bangladesh after being raped.