Bangladeshi Hunter College student dies on subway tracks

Emanuela Gallo, News Editor

Hunter College student, Zinat Hossain, died from a moving train on May 11 in a Brooklyn subway station. She was reportedly on her way home from school at the time of the incident.

Several reports say that it occurred at the 55th Street Station, while others report that it happened at the Utica Avenue station.

Responding officers found Hossain “lying unconscious and unresponsive on the pavement,” according to a statement by the New York Police Department to NextShark, which covers Asian American news. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

She was the only daughter of Amir and Jasmine Hossain. The family emigrated from Daudkandi Upazila of the Comilla District in Bangladesh.

They have lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, since 2016, according to Hossain’s maternal uncle, ​​Enamul Haque. He told the Dhaka Tribune that the family learned about the incident through media reports.

“To God we belong and to Him we return,” Hossain’s first cousin, Reza Islam, said on Facebook, according to a screenshot. “Stolen potential and the loss of youthful life is always heartbreaking.”

The details of her death are unclear.

At Hossain’s funeral at Baitul Jannah Mosque on May 14, her grandfather, Mohammad Kabir, spoke out against a police report he claimed said Hossain committed suicide.

“We don’t believe it,” Kabir said, according to the U.S.-based Bangladeshi newspaper, bdnews24.com. “They said she ‘died due to the fall.’ But in actuality, this was a ‘hate crime.’ Our community must unite in protest against this.”

Haque said the family would hold a rally and a press conference to protest “the police cover-up,” according to Asian Dawn and Thikana.

However, articles by The Daily Star, an English-language newspaper in Bangladesh, and Yahoo News reported police believe she was attacked.

The sources were last updated on May 15 and May 16, respectively. They say that police believe it is possible someone tried to steal Hossain’s bag before pushing her on the track but have yet to identify the suspects.

In contrast, fact-checking organization AFP reported that a spokesperson for the New York Police Department told it the cause of death was yet to be determined.

It is unclear whether police will investigate Hossain’s death as a hate crime.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the death of Zinat Hossain,” nonprofit Desis for Progress tweeted. “We are holding her family, members of the Bangladeshi-American community, and our NYC siblings in our hearts during this time.”

The majority of sources reporting on Hossain’s death are Bangladeshi media both in the United States and in the South Asian country. There have been little to no articles by “mainstream” local or national media outlets, with the exception of Yahoo News.

“It is critical to highlight that almost a week after the incident, this event has not been covered widely by news sources,” South Asians for America, a community advocacy organization, said in a May 19 press release. “Should this be determined to be a hate crime, it will remain largely unreported. Unfortunately, hate-related incidents against minorities have become more commonplace, and they are often unreported without the response and outrage warranted.”

Hossain’s death was shared in Bangladeshi Facebook groups, along with a video of a woman attacked in a subway station. However, the footage is from 2019 and is unrelated to Hossain’s death.

“The incident [in the video] that occurred on October 23, 2019, in the subway system is not the same as the person [Zinat Hossain] above,” a police spokesperson told AFP.

Hossain was buried at Malboro Muslim Memorial Cemetery in New Jersey, according to Thikana. Some reports say she was 23 years old, while others say she was 24 years old.

The Ticker reached out to the Hunter Office of Communications for a statement but received no response as of the time of publication.

“This is so heartbreaking because being a CUNY student, even CUNY or Hunter College haven’t spoken up on her death nor did they ask for an investigation on her death,” a City College student under the username “hijabifit” said in a TikTok video that has garnered over 170,000 views.