Search for Shumi and Piya

19-Apr-2011 | News-Press Release

In a country that is drowning in poverty and disparity, its residents are used to hearing about the distress and injustice upon their neighbors on a regular basis. In Bangladesh, crimes against women and children have reached such a point where no level of brutality or inhumanity manages to surprise anyone living in the country. Torture, violation and trafficking seem to have developed into a norm in Bangladesh, and regretfully few offer more than a sympathetic glance towards the victims of such heinous crimes.

The most shocking attribute of this finding was confirmed on the 2nd of April 2011 by the online newspaper Bangladesh First and later published by The Daily Star newspaper on the 3rd of April 2011 and the Shomokal newspaper.

Two young girls, Shumi and Piya, both approximately 5-8 years of age, are street children who had no one to look after or protect them and often resorted to begging for survival. A few days back, the two were caught stealing half-a-loaf of bread out of hunger. The two girls were then hoisted onto a rickshaw and brutally beaten by a local mob.
This is perhaps a testament to how the society has mutated into a deformed and twisted face of humanity. Two young children are brutalized for an act of survival by a sadistically amused crowd of people, most of which were not even directly affected.

The news was further published by various individuals and groups on the popular networking site, Facebook. JAAGO Foundation has created an event called ‘Search for Shumi and Piya’ on Facebook and invited over 60,000 users to participate, of which over 10,000 have confirmed their attendance. We have further started a petition to find Shumi and Piya and give the attackers their rightful punishment.

The petition, which is being sent directly to the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, currently has approximately 2,000 signatures. One of the participants of the petition said, "The people in the ruling corporate oligarchy get away with stealing millions of the nation’s money, while little girls like Shumi and Piya are inhumanly beaten and abused for stealing a tiny morsel of bread. What kind of contorted, hypocritical justice is this?"

The saddest part of this tragedy is that it took a foreign resident to force into motion an act to save these young girls, whereas the rest of our society stood at bay and offered half-hearted condolences. Purabi Khan, a Bangladeshi-Australian resident, frantically sent mails to UNICEF and other local organizations notifying them of this atrocious incident without any avail. In a final bid for help, she contacted the Australian branch of JAAGO Foundation for help in finding these two young girls.

JAAGO Foundation is now actively searching for these two children. Three teams from JAAGO Foundation went in search of Shumi and Piya in several areas of Dhanmondi and Jhigatola. Although the teams were unable to locate the children, they were able to find good leads to their whereabouts.

Many who have been approached by our teams were able to recognize the children and some were able to provide valuable information. According to some observers, Shumi and Piya live around the Jhigatola area of the city and they often migrate to other parts of the town to collect trash. Others have said that they are seen begging in front of the many food shops on Shatmosjid Road.

On the 18th of April, one search team who had gone to the site of occurrence faced a shocking situation. The locals appeared to be fully aware of the search and were actively reluctant to share any information regarding the whereabouts of the girls. The team was aggressively and verbally assaulted, as the locals demanded an explanation as to why they were inquiring in to the occurrence. Few went so far as to deny the occurrence of any such atrocity.

JAAGO Foundation is asking the public to immediately notify them in the event of sighting, as well as to actively participate in the search for justice by signing the electronic petition for the punishment of their violators.

JAAGO Foundation and the people of Bangladesh requests the Local and International Press Media to be involved in this search for justice, by highlighting this horrendous crime against humanity and creating awareness at an international level.

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