Shegufta Tabassum Ahmed was a first year law student at Brac University when her father S Taher Ahmed, a professor at the Rajshahi University, was murdered in 2006. Before that point, she had no interest in becoming a lawyer.
But the murder of her father was a watershed moment for Shegufta as it was the first time she experienced the real world of the justice system, shattering any idealism she had nurtured over the years.
For 16 long years Shegufta knocked on the doors of all the courts seeking justice for her father. No one answered.
That is when Shegufta decided to take matters into her own hands.
Taher Ahmed went missing on 1 February 2006. On 3 February, Taher's body was found in a manhole outside his Rajshahi University residence. The day after the body was recovered, Taher's son Sanjid Alvi filed a case at Motihar police station. The investigating officer Ahsanul Kabir, the then sub-inspector of the Metropolitan Detective Police, filed a chargesheet against six accused on 17 March, 2006.
The accused were Taher's departmental colleague Mia Mohammad Mohiuddin, then president of Rajshahi University Chhatra Shibir Mahbubul Alam Salehi, Taher's residence caretaker Jahangir, Jahangir's brother and Chhatra Shibir activist Abdus Salam, their (Jahangir and Abdus Salam) father Azimuddin and Salam's relative Nazmul.
Shegufta Tabassum Ahmed decided to become a lawyer when Mia Mohammad Mohiuddin, a former teacher in the same department, the main accused in Taher's murder case, was released on bail in 2006.
"In 2006, my father admitted me to the law department at BRAC University. However, I had no intention of becoming a practising lawyer. If you study law, you can also work in other areas -- you can teach, you can work in different international organisations, you can give legal advice, you can do a lot of work. I always wanted to work out of court," she told The Business Standard over phone.
"I never imagined I would have to run around court premises like this and the hardships I would have to endure for these 16 years," she added.
Shegufta continued saying that after the case went to the speedy trial tribunal, her mother and brother had to go to court in Rajshahi. "My mother is an ordinary housewife, who prior to the tragedy, never had to visit a court. From testifying to all the procedural steps, it has all been painstaking.
"A few days after all that, I came to know that the main accused was released on bail from the High Court. Then after discussing with my mother and brother, I firmly committed to my job as a lawyer, " she said.
"Although it is a criminal case, meaning the state would handle this case, there are options for us to appoint lawyers. But, we did not have that ability. The defendants hired as many as 15 to 20 lawyers. On the other hand, some lawyers helped us on their own," she added.
About the delay in getting the verdict from the Appellate Division after the judgement of the High Court in 2013, Shegufta Tabassum Ahmed said, "In the middle of hundreds of cases in the court, our case was not really a priority. However, the Attorney General has helped to settle the case with great importance."
Shegufta said, "Even after taking a much higher degree, I could not pay much attention to expanding my career just because of this case.
This case became a part of my life like the way medicines mix in the bloodstream.
The Appellate Division upheld the verdict of the High Court on 5 April in the murder case of Professor S Taher Ahmed, sentencing two accused to death and two to life imprisonment.
The six-member Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique dismissed the appeal filed by the accused and the state against the High Court's verdict.
Expressing satisfaction over the verdict, Shegufta said that there are many procedural issues inside the court which are difficult to understand from outside. Only the victim knows the obstacles they have to face.
"In the end I am satisfied with this verdict," she said.
Demanding immediate execution of the verdict, Shegufta said she wants to serve people through practising law in the future.