Bengal crusader against ‘rape’ pays with his life because of police 'harassment'

In life, Mir Amirul Islam was looked upon by friends and family as someone who never turned down a request for help. In death, he has left them a battle and they have pledged to carry it on, while the needy family pondered how they could make a living after spending all they had on his treatment.

Amirul, 33, died on Tuesday, having set himself on fire outside the Karaya police station in Kolkata four weeks earlier. This was because of alleged harassment by the police, and to avoid the humiliation of an arrest. He had taken up the case of an alleged victim of rape, and the man they had accused responded by filing cases of theft and burglary against Amirul.

He leaves behind elderly parents — Mir Izharul Islam is 70 and Mir Shahnaz Izhar 60 — and three brothers and two sisters at home, apart from of two more sisters, both married. One of the brothers is a student and the other two earn from driving and doing odd jobs. Amirul, who conducted private tuitions, was the main breadwinner.

"They have sold almost everything of any value in the household and spent Rs 4.50 lakh on his treatment. Now, they are bankrupt and without a breadwinner," said Md Naushad Hussain, a lawyer who took up the causes of Amirul and the girl allegedly raped.

Amirul was a college dropout. The case he took up was against Shahzada Bux, a local strongman whom he accused of having raped a 16-year-old for over a year. The girl is a neighbour and her family had reportedly confided with Amirul's. Prompted by Amirul, the girl's mother complained to the Karaya police station officer-in-charge. Her letter (copy accessed by The Indian Express) accused Bux of rape, assault and harassment, while the case filed on October 31 was under IPC section 354, which deals with assault of a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, a bailable offence. On November 10, the case was "amended" to one under section 326, which deals with the non-bailable offence of causing grievous hurt with weapons, the lawyer said.

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