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Monday, 20 May, 2024

Former Daily Star journalist Ashfaqul’s mother wants fair probe into Preeti Urang’s death

The Daily Star sacked him two months after his arrest over the death of an underaged domestic worker
Express Report
  19 Apr 2024, 01:57

Anowara Mahbub, mother of Syed Ashfaqul Haque, has issued a statement seeking a fair investigation into the death of Preeti Urang, an underaged domestic worker who died after falling from the flat of the former executive editor of The Daily Star.

In the statement on Wednesday, she said: “I make this statement to shed light on an accidental death (according to prosecution death arising out of negligence) and the unjust media speculation, spread of falsehoods, distortion of facts and far-fetched misinterpretation during the ongoing investigation of the case.”

The Daily Star dismissed Ashfaqul Haque under pressure from rights activists amid allegations that the newspaper was protecting him after he landed in jail in a case over the death of the child domestic worker.
On Feb 6, minor domestic worker Preeti 'fell to her death' from Ashfaqul’s house in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur.

The following day, Preeti’s father Lokesh Urang filed a case at the Mohammadpur Police Station over the incident.

Ashfaqul and his wife Tania Khondoker are in jail in connection with the case over culpable homicide charges. Their attempts to secure bail failed several times.

Previously, on Aug 6, 2023, a 7-year-old domestic worker, identified with a single name as Ferdousi, also fell from the same house.

Following a settlement of Tk 200,000, Ashfaqul and Tania were dropped from the case over Ferdousi’s fall.

Her family is in dire financial and existential trouble with two other children to raise, while Ferdousi is unable to even stand up on her own. She endures excruciating pain while urinating after two surgeries following the incident.

The statement from Ashfaqul’s mother over the two incidents and subsequent protest by distinguished citizens reads:

A mother’s protest and a humble request


I am Anowara Mahbub, wife of Jashore Magura’s late freedom fighter Syed Mahbubul Haque and mother of The Daily Star's former executive editor Syed Ashfaqul Haque.

I make this statement to shed light on an accidental death (according to prosecution death arising out of negligence) and the unjust media speculation, spread of falsehoods, distortion of facts and far-fetched misinterpretation during the ongoing investigation of the case.

On February 6 of this year, Preeti Urang, an irregular domestic househelp, had fallen to her death from the flat of my youngest son, Syed Ashfaqul Haque, and his wife, Tania Khondoker, located on Shahjahan Road in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur.

The death came as a huge shock for the couple, who were asleep at the time of the accident, and they both surrendered to the law. Ashfaque phoned and informed the police immediately. Later the couple was implicated with death by negligence under the section 304A of the Penal Code, 1860, investigation of which is going on and the police are yet to submit any report.

For the last 71 days, Ashfaque and Tania have been kept behind bars.

However, a statement of 117 citizens of Bangladesh released on April 2 this year over Preeti’s death came to my notice. During investigation these statements tantamount to contempt of Court because it is now subjudice matter.

The said statement condemned what it called the “police inaction” in relation to the case.

About the so called “Police inaction” I would like to say: my son and his wife were taken into police custody within hours of the incident; they were interrogated by police multiple times in about 28 hours in Mohammadpur police station before they were produced before a court around 2:00pm the next day and the court sent them to jail.

They were subsequently interrogated in jail gates and again interrogated for four days while on police remand.

Later, the case was handed over to the Detective Branch of police. The detectives questioned Ashfaque and Tania in their custody and produced in court, which sent them to jail.   

As Ashfaque’s mother, I categorically deny the claim made in the said statement that Ashfaque and Tania physically assaulted their househelp. No competent authorities, no investigators, and not even the case filed by Preeti Urang’s family made such a claim. Hence, it is not clear who made such an accusation to the said citizens and on what evidence.

I wonder what proof the said 117 citizens have in their possession to ascertain that she was hanging from the grill for about 13 minutes.

It is also not clear on what basis the said statement claims that the CCTV footage at Ashfaque’s home has gone missing.

Ashfaque and Tania only used the Chinese camera for live stream from their home to their mobile phones as many households and businesses these days do.

Since this was a live camera and there never was any stored footage on any device or memory cards, there is no question of going it missing.

As regards the injury from the fall of Ferdausi, 7, from Ashfaque’s home in August 2023, the said statement made a number of fictional claims. The statement falsely claims that she suffered a “3cmX3cmX3cm wounds from deep inside her reproductive organ leading up to the opening of anus”. Both claims are outrageous.

The doctors at Dhaka Medical College, where she was taken after the fall, on August 4 of 2023 recorded her injury thus: “A lacerated wound from labia minora up to anal sphincter in midline measuring 3cmX2cmX2cm”. Anyone familiar with the medical term “labia minora” would know that labia minora are two small and thin skin tissues located outside the female reproductive organ and not deep inside it.

I am shocked that the said 117 citizens, many of whom are highly respected and accomplished in the fields of academia, journalism, research, criminal investigation and law, would make such uninformed claims in a matter as sensitive as this, especially when it is under investigation by police.

Citing a “spot visit,” the said statement claimed Ferdausisuffered the wounds before the fall which led her to make an attempt on her own life. Can such serious claims be established simply by visiting a spot and without material evidence? Upon months-long investigation, Mohammadpur police did not find any foul play by my son and submitted the final report, and both the family and the CMM court in Dhaka accepted it. Ashfaque and Tania were discharged by the court.

As for the financial assistance for Ferdausi and her family, it was never an out-of-court settlement. As instructed by the court, an amount agreed upon by all parties was deposited through Treasury Challan No. 310 on 1 November 2023 in the judicial account with Bangladesh Bank under the provision of Children Act, 2013.

To sum up, I reject all the false claims and the insinuations made in the said statement.

This type of serial propaganda not only tarnishes the society, but also influences the institutions tasked with investigating into the matter.

I would like to mention here that Tania Khondoker also comes from a respected Muslim family. Tania gains strength from Bangladesh freedom war just like her late grandfather Khondoker Abdul Mannan, a language movement veteran and an organizer of freedom fight in 1971 from Bhola district.

I am a recipient of the President's Award in 1980’s for my special contribution to agriculture. My son Ashfaque, much like his freedom fighter father, has always been principled, ethical, and respectful in life.

Due to Ashfaque's prominent and fearless journalism over the past 33 years, many have become resentful and hostile towards him.

Both the families, from elderly members to children, are suffering socially, mentally, and physically due to this vicious propaganda.

I am old now. At the age of 85, I can no longer tolerate this injustice towards my son and his wife.

I now demand an unbiased, thorough, impartial, and fair investigation to unveil the truth and ensure justice.

Finally, I urge the investigator to conduct a fair investigation. I also request all media houses and people from all levels of society not to spread any misinformation, which may obstruct fair justice.

Lastly, I must say I have complete faith in the law of Bangladesh.

RESPONSE

Among the 117 distinguished citizens who signed the statement were writer-researcher Priscilla Raj, Islamic University’s finance teacher Farha Tanzim Titil and some others who visited Preeti and Ferdousi’s homes.

Farha was contacted for her comments on the questions raised by Ashfaqul’s mother on their statement.

Farha said: “Ashfaqul’s mother has dismissed our allegations as unfounded; however, her statements reflect a mother’s protective instinct towards her son. She called the allegations baseless although they are based on evidence collected from Dhaka, Brahmanbaria, and Moulvibazar. Yet, we have gathered sufficient proof to question her son and daughter-in-law’s actions. This isn't about a single incident; there were two troubling events in that household.

She added, “Residents of the Mohammadpur area reported seeing Preeti Urang hanging for 13 minutes. This information was confirmed through discussions with local witnesses, a detail our statement made clear.”

Regarding the police's handling of the situation, the teacher expressed scepticism, noting that the police had compelled Preeti's father to register a case concerning only 'negligent death.'

Farha also touched upon the case of a 7-year-old child brought from Brahmanbaria to work in Ashfaqul’s household. "We have chosen not to disclose the child's identity to protect her, considering the severe mistreatment we believe she suffered. She has her whole life ahead of her and deserves privacy."

She questioned the recurring employment of child house helps in the household, pointing out, “Besides the deceased and the tortured child, we are aware of two other girls who were brought into the same household at a similarly young age.”

“Why were child house helps brought to the house again and again?

“We mentioned the size of the wound on the Brahmanbaria child from records collected from Dhaka Medical College Hospital," Farha explained before arguing, “Even if we were to concede to Syed Ashfaqul’s mother's assertion that the wound measured two centimetres instead of three, does it really diminish the severity of the crime?”

Comments

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Former Daily Star journalist Ashfaqul’s mother wants fair probe into Preeti Urang’s death

The Daily Star sacked him two months after his arrest over the death of an underaged domestic worker
Express Report
  19 Apr 2024, 01:57

Anowara Mahbub, mother of Syed Ashfaqul Haque, has issued a statement seeking a fair investigation into the death of Preeti Urang, an underaged domestic worker who died after falling from the flat of the former executive editor of The Daily Star.

In the statement on Wednesday, she said: “I make this statement to shed light on an accidental death (according to prosecution death arising out of negligence) and the unjust media speculation, spread of falsehoods, distortion of facts and far-fetched misinterpretation during the ongoing investigation of the case.”

The Daily Star dismissed Ashfaqul Haque under pressure from rights activists amid allegations that the newspaper was protecting him after he landed in jail in a case over the death of the child domestic worker.
On Feb 6, minor domestic worker Preeti 'fell to her death' from Ashfaqul’s house in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur.

The following day, Preeti’s father Lokesh Urang filed a case at the Mohammadpur Police Station over the incident.

Ashfaqul and his wife Tania Khondoker are in jail in connection with the case over culpable homicide charges. Their attempts to secure bail failed several times.

Previously, on Aug 6, 2023, a 7-year-old domestic worker, identified with a single name as Ferdousi, also fell from the same house.

Following a settlement of Tk 200,000, Ashfaqul and Tania were dropped from the case over Ferdousi’s fall.

Her family is in dire financial and existential trouble with two other children to raise, while Ferdousi is unable to even stand up on her own. She endures excruciating pain while urinating after two surgeries following the incident.

The statement from Ashfaqul’s mother over the two incidents and subsequent protest by distinguished citizens reads:

A mother’s protest and a humble request


I am Anowara Mahbub, wife of Jashore Magura’s late freedom fighter Syed Mahbubul Haque and mother of The Daily Star's former executive editor Syed Ashfaqul Haque.

I make this statement to shed light on an accidental death (according to prosecution death arising out of negligence) and the unjust media speculation, spread of falsehoods, distortion of facts and far-fetched misinterpretation during the ongoing investigation of the case.

On February 6 of this year, Preeti Urang, an irregular domestic househelp, had fallen to her death from the flat of my youngest son, Syed Ashfaqul Haque, and his wife, Tania Khondoker, located on Shahjahan Road in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur.

The death came as a huge shock for the couple, who were asleep at the time of the accident, and they both surrendered to the law. Ashfaque phoned and informed the police immediately. Later the couple was implicated with death by negligence under the section 304A of the Penal Code, 1860, investigation of which is going on and the police are yet to submit any report.

For the last 71 days, Ashfaque and Tania have been kept behind bars.

However, a statement of 117 citizens of Bangladesh released on April 2 this year over Preeti’s death came to my notice. During investigation these statements tantamount to contempt of Court because it is now subjudice matter.

The said statement condemned what it called the “police inaction” in relation to the case.

About the so called “Police inaction” I would like to say: my son and his wife were taken into police custody within hours of the incident; they were interrogated by police multiple times in about 28 hours in Mohammadpur police station before they were produced before a court around 2:00pm the next day and the court sent them to jail.

They were subsequently interrogated in jail gates and again interrogated for four days while on police remand.

Later, the case was handed over to the Detective Branch of police. The detectives questioned Ashfaque and Tania in their custody and produced in court, which sent them to jail.   

As Ashfaque’s mother, I categorically deny the claim made in the said statement that Ashfaque and Tania physically assaulted their househelp. No competent authorities, no investigators, and not even the case filed by Preeti Urang’s family made such a claim. Hence, it is not clear who made such an accusation to the said citizens and on what evidence.

I wonder what proof the said 117 citizens have in their possession to ascertain that she was hanging from the grill for about 13 minutes.

It is also not clear on what basis the said statement claims that the CCTV footage at Ashfaque’s home has gone missing.

Ashfaque and Tania only used the Chinese camera for live stream from their home to their mobile phones as many households and businesses these days do.

Since this was a live camera and there never was any stored footage on any device or memory cards, there is no question of going it missing.

As regards the injury from the fall of Ferdausi, 7, from Ashfaque’s home in August 2023, the said statement made a number of fictional claims. The statement falsely claims that she suffered a “3cmX3cmX3cm wounds from deep inside her reproductive organ leading up to the opening of anus”. Both claims are outrageous.

The doctors at Dhaka Medical College, where she was taken after the fall, on August 4 of 2023 recorded her injury thus: “A lacerated wound from labia minora up to anal sphincter in midline measuring 3cmX2cmX2cm”. Anyone familiar with the medical term “labia minora” would know that labia minora are two small and thin skin tissues located outside the female reproductive organ and not deep inside it.

I am shocked that the said 117 citizens, many of whom are highly respected and accomplished in the fields of academia, journalism, research, criminal investigation and law, would make such uninformed claims in a matter as sensitive as this, especially when it is under investigation by police.

Citing a “spot visit,” the said statement claimed Ferdausisuffered the wounds before the fall which led her to make an attempt on her own life. Can such serious claims be established simply by visiting a spot and without material evidence? Upon months-long investigation, Mohammadpur police did not find any foul play by my son and submitted the final report, and both the family and the CMM court in Dhaka accepted it. Ashfaque and Tania were discharged by the court.

As for the financial assistance for Ferdausi and her family, it was never an out-of-court settlement. As instructed by the court, an amount agreed upon by all parties was deposited through Treasury Challan No. 310 on 1 November 2023 in the judicial account with Bangladesh Bank under the provision of Children Act, 2013.

To sum up, I reject all the false claims and the insinuations made in the said statement.

This type of serial propaganda not only tarnishes the society, but also influences the institutions tasked with investigating into the matter.

I would like to mention here that Tania Khondoker also comes from a respected Muslim family. Tania gains strength from Bangladesh freedom war just like her late grandfather Khondoker Abdul Mannan, a language movement veteran and an organizer of freedom fight in 1971 from Bhola district.

I am a recipient of the President's Award in 1980’s for my special contribution to agriculture. My son Ashfaque, much like his freedom fighter father, has always been principled, ethical, and respectful in life.

Due to Ashfaque's prominent and fearless journalism over the past 33 years, many have become resentful and hostile towards him.

Both the families, from elderly members to children, are suffering socially, mentally, and physically due to this vicious propaganda.

I am old now. At the age of 85, I can no longer tolerate this injustice towards my son and his wife.

I now demand an unbiased, thorough, impartial, and fair investigation to unveil the truth and ensure justice.

Finally, I urge the investigator to conduct a fair investigation. I also request all media houses and people from all levels of society not to spread any misinformation, which may obstruct fair justice.

Lastly, I must say I have complete faith in the law of Bangladesh.

RESPONSE

Among the 117 distinguished citizens who signed the statement were writer-researcher Priscilla Raj, Islamic University’s finance teacher Farha Tanzim Titil and some others who visited Preeti and Ferdousi’s homes.

Farha was contacted for her comments on the questions raised by Ashfaqul’s mother on their statement.

Farha said: “Ashfaqul’s mother has dismissed our allegations as unfounded; however, her statements reflect a mother’s protective instinct towards her son. She called the allegations baseless although they are based on evidence collected from Dhaka, Brahmanbaria, and Moulvibazar. Yet, we have gathered sufficient proof to question her son and daughter-in-law’s actions. This isn't about a single incident; there were two troubling events in that household.

She added, “Residents of the Mohammadpur area reported seeing Preeti Urang hanging for 13 minutes. This information was confirmed through discussions with local witnesses, a detail our statement made clear.”

Regarding the police's handling of the situation, the teacher expressed scepticism, noting that the police had compelled Preeti's father to register a case concerning only 'negligent death.'

Farha also touched upon the case of a 7-year-old child brought from Brahmanbaria to work in Ashfaqul’s household. "We have chosen not to disclose the child's identity to protect her, considering the severe mistreatment we believe she suffered. She has her whole life ahead of her and deserves privacy."

She questioned the recurring employment of child house helps in the household, pointing out, “Besides the deceased and the tortured child, we are aware of two other girls who were brought into the same household at a similarly young age.”

“Why were child house helps brought to the house again and again?

“We mentioned the size of the wound on the Brahmanbaria child from records collected from Dhaka Medical College Hospital," Farha explained before arguing, “Even if we were to concede to Syed Ashfaqul’s mother's assertion that the wound measured two centimetres instead of three, does it really diminish the severity of the crime?”

Comments

Patriotic ceremony held marking Russian victory day
Non-communicable diseases cause 70 pc of deaths in Bangladesh: experts
Journalist Ziaul Haque passes away
Information Commission Bangladesh disposes of seven complaints
HC denies bail to ex-SP Babul Akter in wife's 2016 murder case