Professor Imtiaz barred from academic activities

Professor Imtiaz AhmedFile photo

The Dhaka University (DU) authority has barred professor Imtiaz Ahmed of the Department of International Relations from all sorts of academic activities in future. The decision was taken during a regular syndicate meeting on Sunday following his removal from two administrative posts of the university on the allegation of defaming Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and distorting the history of the Liberation War.

DU made the announcement in this regard in a press release on Sunday. DU vice-chancellor (VC) Md Akhtaruzzaman presided over the meeting. DU pro-VC (administration) Muhammad Samad and pro-vc (education) ASM Maksud Kamal, education secretary Suleman Khan and others were present at the meeting.

Professor Imtiaz Ahmed has been on post-retirement leave since 6 April.

The DU press release said the recommendations of the committee, which was formed to investigate the allegations against professor Imtiaz Ahmed of defaming Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and distorting the history of the Liberation war in his  book titled “Historicising 1971 Genocide: State versus Person”, were brought up during the syndicate meeting.

The syndicate believes that the book contains some information regarding Bangabandhu, the historic speech of 7 March and the Liberation War, which are false, confusing and are a clear distortion of the history of the country.

The syndicate, in the meeting, strongly condemned the presentation of false information and distortion of the history in the book. The meeting also urged professor Imtiaz Ahmed, the author of the book, and the University Press Limited (UPL), publisher of the book, to retract the book immediately.

At the same time, the syndicate also requested the government to take legal actions against the people involved in the defamation of Bangladesh's founding father and distortion of the Liberation War. The syndicate also decided in the meeting to bar professor Imtiaz from any sort of academic activities of the university in future.

Speaking regarding the decision of the DU syndicate on Monday morning, professor Imtiaz Ahmed told Prothom Alo, “I don’t know anything about the decision taken by the syndicate. So I won’t comment on that.”

Earlier, on 29 March, former judge of the Supreme Court AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury, in his column published on an online news portal, alleged that the history of the Liberation War has been distorted and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been defamed in Imtiaz Ahmed’s book titled “Historicising 1971 Genocide: State versus Person”. It sparked criticisms from various quarters.

Bangladesh Mukijuddha Mancha staged a demonstration at the feet of the Raju Memorial Sculpture demanding removal of professor Imtiaz Ahmed from the DU and formation of a probe committee to take legal action against him on 2 April. Former judge AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury also joined the demonstration.

The next day, on 3 April, DU vice-chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman formed a five-member committee headed by Fakrul Alam, director of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Research Institute for Peace and Liberty, to investigate the allegations against professor Imtiaz Ahmed.

The DU unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) submitted a memorandum to the VC demanding legal actions against professor Imtiaz Ahmed following an investigation over the matter on 6 April.

University Teachers Association president Nizamul Haque Bhuiyan and general secretary Jinat Huda demanded an investigation into the allegations and take legal actions against professor Imtiaz.

In this context, the DU vice-chancellor removed Imtiaz from the post of director of the Centre for Genocide Studies of the university on 11 April. Later, on 13 April, VC Akhtaruzzaman removed professor Imtiaz from the post of director of the Office of International Affairs.

Meanwhile, professor Imtiaz Ahmed issued a statement explaining his stance regarding the allegations brought up against him on 2 April. He said in the statement that, “How is it possible to deny or downplay the importance of the 1971 genocide in a book which was written with an urge for the trial of genocide committed in Bangladesh in 1971 and the establishment of genocide studies centre in Dhaka University? In fact I am surprised that such complaints are made. I think some parts of the book have been misunderstood or misinterpreted somewhere.”

Pro-BNP teacher pardoned on condition of signing bond

A report of Zia Rahman, dean of the social science faculty, regarding a “fabricated and unfounded” Facebook post of ASM Amanullah, professor of sociology department and a pro-BNP teacher leader, was also raised in the syndicate meeting on Sunday. Later, he was granted a pardon on condition of signing a bond.

The press release said, “The syndicate believes that ASM Amanullah’s Facebook post was an attempt to tarnish the image of the government and the education policy. He regretted giving that Facebook post and has apologised for that. The syndicate meeting has granted his plea on condition of signing a bond which states that he won’t be involved in any sort of ‘irresponsible’ activities like this anymore.