It is not a new incident that innocent students are tortured or intimidated for different lame excuses on Dhaka University campus.

Desires of general students depend on the whim of ruling party student body all the time, students have said.

They also said this situation has emerged as the university administration indulges in such activities.

The students said that the torture on four students at Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall on Tuesday night is a continuation of the situation.

Ruling Awami League’s student organisation Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists of the hall unit beat up four students for two and half hours suspecting them of being involved in the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir.

The victims were then handed over to Shahbagh police station through the hall administration and the proctorial team. The police released them in the afternoon of following day.

Mukimul Haque Chowdhury, one of the victims, then started sit-in at Raju Sculpture area of the campus demanding punishment of the attackers. Mukim was admitted to a hospital on Thursday. Three other victims could not be contacted.

A leader of the Student Unity against Violence, an alliance of 12 student organizations, Hasan Al Mamun told Prothom Alo that tortured Mukimul was admitted at a private hospital. They will launch more protest after Mukimul is released from hospital.

Cycle of torture

Every year in the beginning of January, students in small and big groups are seen wandering on Dhaka University campus since 11pm. Seniors send those first year students to parade the campus from ‘Guest Room’ in residential halls. Seniors of the ruling party’s student body conduct guest rooms where the first year students are taught ‘manners’.

The first year students reside at ‘Gano Room’—a room where they are allowed to stay on condition of participating in political programmes of the ruling party’s student body.

The culture of Gano Room has derived from acute accommodation crisis in residential halls. The freshers are required to live in Gano Rooms controlled by ruling party student wing.

However, every contesting panel in last year’s elections to Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) pledged to end Gano Room culture but no action has so far been taken to this end.

This correspondent talked with some students of first year at 1:30PM at Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) area on Tuesday. They all shared their frustration about being abused at ‘Guest Room’.

Some of those first year students themselves torture fresher students while they become sophomores. They beat up juniors for skipping political programmes, not showing proper allegiance or on allegation of involvement with other political parties.

This cycle of torture has been going on for years, thanks to inaction of university authorities.

DU proctor AKM Golam Rabbani, however, claimed that the authorities take action based on specific allegation.

He does not think BCL is solely responsible for these incidents.

Change in students’ mindset is necessary to wipe out the bad practice, he maintained.

No action for torture

If any student differs with the BCL ideology, he or she is beaten up. In case of personal enmity, innocent students are branded ‘Shibir men’ and are tortured by BCL men.
Ishak Mia, a student of international business department was brutally tortured at Bijoy Ekattor hall by BCL men on 2 August 2015. Although he was a BCL activist, he was branded ‘Shibir’. A probe committee formed by the hall authorities recommended punitive measures against six BCL men including hall president and general secretary. That recommendation is yet to be implemented in three and half years.

Manirul Islam, a resident of Muktijuddha Ziaur Rahman Hall was tortured on 13 August 2017. BCL men alleged that he was involved with ‘Shibir’ which was found to be wrong later.

Four days later, BCL leaders and activists beat up five students at Haji Mohammad Mohsin Hall branding them as ‘Shibir activists’. Officer in charge of Shahbagh police station at that time said they did not found any proof of that allegation.

More incidents of torture

Farid Hasan, a master’s student of Salimullah Muslim (SM) Hall was mercilessly beaten up for contesting as an independent candidate in the DUCSU election.

BCL men attacked DUCSU vice president Nurul Haque Nur and his followers while they protested against the attack. Some female student leaders were also attacked.

Hall authorities on 7 May submitted probe report in that incident. Four hall provosts on 28 May were asked to give suggestions evaluating the report at a meeting of disciplinary committee. No action was taken so far over the incident.

Disciplinary committee member secretary and proctor Golam Rabbani said the probe report has been approved at the board and it would be discussed in next syndicate meeting.

Ehsan Rafiq, a student of SM Hall, was mercilessly beaten up by some BCL men on 6 February 2018 over borrowing a calculator. His right eye was badly damaged at the beating.

DU authorities permanently expelled Omar Faruk, an assistant secretary of BCL’s SM Hall unit over the incident.

Deputy training affairs secretary of hall unit BCL Mehedi Hasan Himel, assistant secretaries Ruhul Amin and Fardin Ahmed, Ahsan Ullah and Samiul Islam were expelled for two years. Vice president of the hall unit Ariful Islam was expelled for one year.

But the authorities on February last year lessened the sentence of six of them. Faruk’s permanent expulsion reduced to two years while the sentence of five others was reduced to one year.

When asked, BCL central president Al Nahean Khan told Prothom Alo, “BCL takes action against anyone found involved in any crime. We would try to correct ourselves if any mistake is made in the past.”

Protest over the recent incident of torture

The Student Unity against Violence demonstrated on the campus on Thursday protesting at the incident of attack on 4 students on Tuesday night and marking two years of BCL attack on general students under the banner of Nipironbirodhi Shikkharthi (Students against oppression).

Addressing the rally, DUCSU VP Nurul Haque Nur said BCL has established a reign of terror on the university campuses across the country.

He said the ruling party student wing has become an enemy of freedom of speech and expression at the campus.

Demanding resignation of the university proctor, he said the university authorities failed to protect the general students.

The protesters also placed four point demands which include ensuring justice over incidents of attack by the BCL men in different times, driving out illegal occupants from residential halls and making the campus free of terrorism.

Asked about the demand of his resignation, proctor Golam Rabbani suggested VP Nur to ‘act responsibly’.

A separate programme marking 35th anniversary of Bangladesh Chhatra Federation also condemned Tuesday’s attack. Addressing the programme, VP Nur said the ruling party student wing has unleashed planned terror activities on the campus to control the difference of opinions.