In yet another incident of cruelty against kids, two teen boys were tortured badly in Rajshahi over a flimsy claim that they may have stolen a mobile phone.
They were beaten all over for hours even as they protested their innocence, howled in panic and screamed in pain - "O ma, ma go, ma go" (O my mother, O my mother).
But nothing could stop their tormentors, including an army soldier and a Rab member. They also swore at the kids - Zahid Hasan, 15, and Emon Ali, 13, police said, quoting locals.
They released the two after failing to prove their involvement in the theft.
Zahid, a class-ten student at Bagsara High School, was admitted to Poba Upazila Health Complex and Emon, an orphan, went into hiding in fear, said Shariful Islam, officer-in-charge of Poba Police Station.
The incident happened at Chowbaria village in Poba upazila on Friday.
Someone among the crowd filmed parts of the disturbing incident and shared it on social media, triggering an outcry.
Police constable Sagar, who is currently with Rab, and a member of Bangladesh Army, Nasir Uddin, also took part in the beating and were seen in the footage, said the OC, quoting locals.
Both Sagar and Nasir were on leave and were supposed to join their workplaces yesterday, he added.
Zahid's father Emran Hossain filed a case against 13 people, including Nasir and Sagar. Police arrested one villager, Azizul Islam, in this connection.
It all began on Thursday night. Fazlur Rahman, an influential farmer of the village, found his son's mobile phone went missing and suspected that Emon stole it, said Emran, a rickshaw puller.
Fazlur's men picked up Emon from his house on Friday morning and tortured him. At one point, Emon said his playmate Zahid might have taken it. They then picked up Zahid from Naogaon-Rajshahi road around 3:00pm, he said.
They kept the kids confined in a room of Fazlur's where the torture took place.
On returning home in the evening, Emran did not find his son. Later he came to know that his son was at Fazlur's house.
"But I could not imagine that they were torturing him... Later, we went to the house and begged for mercy. They returned my son with his face, hands and legs swollen. There was clotted blood in many parts of his body," he said.
They let go of the kids around 10:00pm, after taking Emran's signature on a blank paper. Fazlur's men also threatened him against telling it to anyone or going to the police.
The 1:14 minute footage available on Facebook and YouTube shows Zahid and Emon being beaten indiscriminately by two men as others tightly held their hands.
As the kids screamed in pain, the tormentors said: "Hold his hand, turn him", "Beat...beat," "Tell us who stole the mobile phone".
Footage shows one of the two men was wearing a maroon shirt. On the back of the shirt was written: Nasir.
But this is no isolated incident of child abuse.
On July 8 last year, 13-year-old Samiul Alam Rajon was beaten to death by a group of men in Sylhet Sadar allegedly for trying to steal a rickshaw van.
That incident too was filmed and posted on social media, sparking an outrage and call for justice. On November 8, a Sylhet court handed down death penalty to four people for the killing. The court also ruled out that the boy tried to steal a rickshaw van; rather it was a misconception of an accused.
Then on August 13, Rakib, 13, was tortured to death in Khulna, by his former employer just because the boy quit the job and started working elsewhere for better pay.
Rakib's killing was extremely brutal. His former employer Md Sharif and his uncle Mintu Mia stripped the boy naked, inserted a high-pressure air pump nozzle into his rectum and filled the body with air. Rakib's intestines tore apart and his lungs burst as air filled the abdomen, killing him.
A Khulna court sentenced Sharif and Mintu to death for the murder.
In the first 10 months of last year, 261 children were murdered while 32 others were killed after being kidnapped, according to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, a leading network of child rights organisations.