‘I was breathless as they tied me and poured water into my mouth’

Torture victim Sakib Hossain
Prothom Alo

“Imtiaz Alam hit me with cricket stump as soon as I said I just returned from tuition. Then they tied me and started pouring water into my mouth. They stopped pouring water when I was almost breathless. Then they read out some names from a list and asked me whether we teach anywhere (Retina Coaching Centre)? I said, I don’t and don’t know about the others."

“Immediately, they started beating me with stump, plastic pipe, wood plank and other things. At a stage I fell down onto the floor. Then they forced me to sit on a chair and drink water. Then again they started hitting my knee and other joints with stumps.”

Fourth year student at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), Sakib Hossain recounted this torture that he and three other students were victims of. Leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of ruling Awami League, tortured the four students at the main hostel of the medical college on Wednesday night.

Two victims -- Sakib Hossain and Zahid Hossain -- filed two written complaints mentioning names of the alleged perpetrators to the college principal Sahena Akhtar on Monday. Both of them are currently undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of CMCH.

Both the students said they were taken to room No 17/C on the 2nd floor of the hostel saying that an “elder brother” is looking for them. The 12-page complaints mentioned teaching at Retina Coaching Centre, run by Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, alongside clash among the classmates as the reason of the torture. Some 20-22 BCL men tortured the two students when they said they do not teach at the coaching centre.

The written complaint also mentioned that the BCL members again threatened them to send them to “morgue” if they make public the torture.

In the complaint the two students of the 62nd batch of CMCH demanded trial of the people, who tortured them, and security to complete study.

Some 20-22 BCL men including Avijit Das, Zakir Hossain, Imtiaz Alam, Reajul Islam, Saju Das and Akash, allegedly tortured Sakib, Zahid, Abu Raiyat and Mobasshir Hossain on Wednesday night. All of the BCL men are followers of Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, the deputy minister for education.

Sakib Hossain, from Banshkhali, was called first at around 12:30am. Zakir Hossain and three-four others called Sakib from his hostel room No 3/C. The same BCL men called Zahid from his room at around 2:30 am. Later Abu Raiyat and Mobasshir Hossain were called, said the written complaint.

In his complaint, Zahid Hossain said, “They started checking my mobile phone. At the same time, some of them started asking me questions. They asked whether I go to teach anywhere with Sakib. When I answered, ‘no’, they immediately said, yes, you go. Tell us who else go with you. And, they started beating me with stump, pipe and stick. At a stage they blindfolded me and started punching me heavily.”

Torture victim Zahid Hossain
Prothom Alo

Sakib and Zahid were brought face to face and asked questioned. That time too the BCL men slapped them. Later, at the time Fazr prayers, the two students were taken to another room, 19/A. They were threatened not to make the incident public.

Zahid Hossain said, “They forced me to lie down at that room. That time I felt severe pain in my hands, feet, and back. I was moaning. I went to the bathroom reclining on their shoulders by 2:00pm on Thursday. Later, I was sent to my room. They said my staying alive will be tough if I tell anybody about the day’s incidents. I had no strength of even talking when I returned to my room. Later, in evening police and teachers sent me to hospital.”

Zahid Hossain thought he was tortured because of his intimacy with Sakib Hossain and visiting their rooms at any time, while Sakib Hossain thought Saju Das was enraged as he was made “monitor” in the class. Sakib said Saju Das was “enraged”.

In his written complaint, Sakib said like many others he protested when allegation of hurting religios sentiment was raised against Sourav Debnath in 2021. At the same time, he would behave a bit like a leader in the class. That’s why he was beaten up, he added.

Zahid mentioned in the complaint that Sourav and Mahin went to the ICU, where he is taking treatment, on Sunday and threatened to send him “morgue” from the ICU.

The two victims also demanded to return their mobile phones. However, the complaints did not mention the political identity of the perpetrators. The complaints were signed by Zahid and Sakib and their guardians.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, CMCH vice-principal Md Hafizul Islam said the guardians of the two students filed a written complaint to the principal. They mentioned names of the accused, the detailed incident and its reason. The issue will be discussed and actions taken as per the discussion.

Regarding the torture, BCL men Avijit Das told Prothom Alo, “They (torture victims) are involved with the politics of Chhatra Shibir, teach at Retina. Many evidences were found in their mobile phones. We have submitted those to proper places. and, we did not beat them up that much. They are acting much.”

* The report has been rewritten for English edition of Prothom Alo by Shameem Reza