The grisly lynching of a 13-year-old boy accused of theft has triggered angry protests in Bangladesh, after footage of the killing went viral on social media.
The clip shows the victim, Samiul Alam Rajon, tied to a post and beaten with a metal rod, while his attackers laugh and jeer during the attack in Kumargaon, on the outskirts of Sylhet.
Footage of the lynching, recorded by one of the attackers, was widely viewed on social networks, prompting hundreds of angry protesters to take to the streets, demanding the killers be punished.
The victim’s pleas for mercy, or just a glass of water, were ignored by his attackers during the ordeal Sunday. A vegetable vendor, he had been accused by the men of theft.
An autopsy at Sylhet Medical College Hospital revealed he died from severe head injuries, while his body bore scores of marks.
Sylhet Metropolitan City Additional Police Commissioner SM Rokon Uddin told CNN Thursday that they had arrested eight people so far and were also seeking two further suspects, who had hidden the body after the murder.
“The way the boy was murdered was really unfortunate… over a dozen of bystanders saw the brutality, but no body even informed the police,” he said. The detective branch of the city’s police were investigating further.
The man who filmed the deadly assault was arrested Wednesday, and the device upon which it was filmed has been recovered.
The protesters claimed Rajon’s incident was not isolated, but rather exposed shortcomings in the country’s criminal justice system.
Local rights organization Odhikar said in a recent report that at least 903 people were lynched in Bangladesh since January 2009, and at least 60 people were lynched in the past six months.
“I want justice,” Rajon’s father, Sheikh Azizur Rahman, told CNN by phone.
He said Rajon, the eldest of his two sons, had begun working as a street vendor to support the family. Rahman, who suffers from heart disease, said he could not earn enough on his own.
“I’ve sent him for work as I couldn’t support his schooling because of poverty,” Rahman said.
Rahman said Rajon had struggled with schooling, and had had difficulties speaking in the past.
The State Minister for Home Affairs, Asaduzzaman Khan, described the case as “really unfortunate,” and said police had been instructed to go tough against the killers. “No one will be spared,” he said.
Rahman, however, was not convinced. He said the entire family was traumatized and feared further reprisal by the killers.
“They (the killers) are powerful but I’m not… they can do anything… Now I’m scared (for) my life,” he said.