Bangladesh Sadharon Chhatra Adhikar Sankrakkhan Parishad leaders and activists stage demonstration in Shahbag intersection demanding reform in existing quota system in public services.
Bangladesh Sadharon Chhatra Adhikar Sankrakkhan Parishad leaders and activists stage demonstration in Shahbag intersection demanding reform in existing quota system in public services.

Quota reform activists are finding it difficult to lead a normal life following their implication in a number of cases.

Those who have already been released on bail have become tired attending the court hearings while some of them are passing days in fear.

During the quota reform movement, case documents suggest, the police filed four cases with Shahbagh police station and one with Ramna police station.

Only quota reform movement joint convenor Rashed Khan was named in one of the cases, but the accused were unidentified in the four other.

One of the cases was filed under Article 57 of the ICT Act while other cases were filed for vandalising Dhaka University vice chancellor’s residence, obstructing government duty, vandalising police vehicles and torching the motorbike of a police official of special branch.

The students said the cases were basically filed in April, which are now being used to oppress the quota reform movement activists, as they announced to come out on the streets on 30 June.

The eight frontrunners of the movement were detained immediately after the announcement.

They would not be exempted from the case soon, the quota reform activists apprehend.

The investigations of the cases would be conducted slowly as the authorities think that if the leaders remain busy with the ligation proceedings, the movement will automatically become weaker.  

The students also alleged that there is similarity between the attackers of the VC’s residence and attackers on the safe road movement.

But, police did not say anything about the attack on the university campus on 8 April.

Rashed Khan, who is an accused in a case under article 57, was also detained for attacking the DU VC’s residence with the help of a ‘quarter’.

But, the official at the detective wing and cybercrimes wing of the police, seeking anonymity, said they did not find Rashed’s link to the so-called vested group.

Rashed who is now on bail told Prothom Alo that three teams quizzed him in two phases during his 15-day remand.

He said the police even asked him about a rumour of Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) Tk 1.25 billion funding behind the quota reform movement.

“But, they did not find anything in this regard,” he added.

About the attack on VC’s residence, Rashed said on the night of 8 April, he took shelter inside the business faculty building after he was hit by rubber bullets.

Asked about the ceases, DMP deputy commissioner (media wing) Masudur Rahman told Prothom Alo that investigations in the cases are continuing.

“The police are trying to identify real culprits and bring them to book.”

It has been learnt that the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) could not finish investigations in any of the cases till 5 September 2018.

Dhaka University’s Rashed Khan and Gazipur Bhawal College’s student Shakhawat Hossain were sued under Article 57 of the ICT Act.

Investigation officer of Rashed’s case Md Sajibuzzaman told the court, “A formal declaration has been made at parliament scrapping the quota system and the procedure of a gazette notification is underway. Yet, Rashed came on Facebook live and defamed the prime minister, spreading wrong messages. He has tried to destabilise the country in a planned way.” 

In Shakhawat’s case statement, police said he called on all students in Gazipur to join the movement through Facebook posts.

Asked about the Rashed and Shakhawat’s cases, DMP’s Cyber Security and Crimes Department deputy commissioner Alimuzzaman said, “I can say nothing as the investigation procedure is still ongoing.”

“The investigations will take time,” he added.

Six of those who were attacked by the activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League during the movement were also sued for attacking police and vandalism and torching. 

The court documents show that Chittagong University’s Jasim Uddin, DU’s Tariqul Islam, and Farukh Hossain underwent treatment under police protection.  They were also sued.

Another DU student Mashiur Rahman was sued for torching the motorbike of a policeman.

Mashiur said, “I returned campus from home on 30 June. BCL picked me up from Room No 238 of Surja Sen Hall (DU) and beat me before handing me over to Shahbagh police station.”

Later, police sued him in the motorbike torching case, he added.

The students who are now on bail fear to return to the campus.

Dhaka University’s Mahfuz was detained along with quota reform movement leader Rashed Khan on 1 July.

The student of philosophy was freed on bail seven days after his detention. But, Mahfuz said he still fears to move freely on the campus.

Other leaders of the quota reform movement could not return to the campus yet.

Rashed said he had a deadline for MBA admission on 19 July, but he missed it.

Police can speed up the investigation considering these things, Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik said, adding that the students’ suffering will not end if the investigation takes time.

*This piece, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam.