Jahangirnagar University: Criminal activities continue unabated

Students on 6 February demonstrate against incident of rape in Jahangirnagar campus
Prothom Alo

Jahangirnagar University is known as one of the most picturesque campuses in the country, but it has grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons over and over again. Leaders and activists of the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League are embroiled in extortion, mugging, torturing women, drugs and all sorts of crimes on campus.

In the latest incident, BCL men allegedly raped a woman on campus while confining her husband. The university administration has revoked the certificates of six current and former students of the campus over the incident. Four of these six students are leaders of BCL.  

Teachers and students said the university authorities did not take strict measures against perpetrators of various crimes in the past. Rather sometimes they were allegedly sheltered by the administration. As a result, JU campus has been becoming a sanctuary for criminals where everyone feels insecure.

Criminal activities continue unabated

JU BCL’s deputy secretary for stipend affairs Al Rajee Sarker went to eat at a restaurant at Bot Tola area of the campus on 7 January night. The owner of the restaurant alleged he was beaten up as he asked the BCL leader to pay the bill for the meal.

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BCL leaders and activists on 14 October kept 7 buses of Labbaik Paribahan seized over harassment of a female student of the university. Two days before that incident, the BCL leaders and activists seized 20 buses of Selfie Paribahan on allegation that an assistant of a bus pushed a BCL leader. A group of students of AFM Kamaluddin Hall seized 18 buses of Savar Paribahan over an altercation of a student with the bus staff over half fare.

In every aforementioned incident, the bus owners had to pay a certain amount of money as compensation. The buses were confined at the campus.

On 25 July, some leaders of BCL seized 24 'human haulers' (form of public transport), locally known as 'laguna', for extortion.

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The university unit BCL leaders are accused of several criminal activities including beating up a lineman Khairul as cable businessman Mominullah from university’s adjacent area did not pay Tk 500,000 toll as per BCL leaders’ demand; beating up a shoe shop owner and his staff at Islamnagar area near the campus on 5 May; beating up Ansar Hossain, a member of Pathalia union parishad, over a trifling matter; beating up Sayem Hasan, a student of second year, for not attending the ‘guest room' and trying to frame him with drugs; and collecting Tk 50,000 as ransom by picking up Farid Hossain, a resident of university’s nearby Rangamati area on 17 July. The university administration did not take any punitive measures over these incidents. BCL central committee, however, took punitive measures over some of these incidents.

The university authorities suspended Joydwip Das, an activist of BCL and student of geography and environment, on 4 June for staying at the room of Sheikh Russel Hall with a female friend. According to the directive of the university, he was not supposed to attend any class or examination during the suspension period and could not stay in the resident hall. But he continues to stay at the hall.

Everything from harassment to rape  

Security guards and students said women coming from outside the campus as well as students often become sexually harassed in the campus. Most of the victims do not file any complaint out of fear.
In the latest incident, a woman was allegedly raped behind a bush near Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall on Saturday night. Mostafizur Rahman, hall unit BCL’s international affairs secretary and former student of the university, allegedly led the incident. Police arrested four including Mostafizur over the incident.

Earlier on 4 August, BCL leaders allegedly mugged and harassed a female associate professor of Noakhali Science and Technology University at Gymnasium area in the campus.

Drug addicts crowd in the evening

As the evening progresses, drug users congregate in various locations including the university's central playground, as well as school and college playgrounds, Monpura and Shantiniketan areas.

A large number of these addicts are outsiders, and recent observations reveal that many people in these areas are consuming various drugs, including ganja (m, in separate groups.

It is reported that most of these individuals come from the Savar-Ashulia area and have connections to leaders and activists of the university wing of Chhatra League.

According to several campus security guards, many of the drug addicts are known to university students and BCL leaders. When the guards attempt to intervene with these outsiders, student leaders or activists often intervene either over the phone or in person to prevent the guards from taking action. In most cases, due to the influence of the students, it becomes challenging to take any action against the outsiders.

Alif Mahmud, Convener of the Students' Union University Council (one faction), has stated that under the current administration's umbrella, drug consumption is rampant on the campus, and drugs are even being brought in through university transport. He further highlighted a recent incident where two individuals died after being struck by the university's ambulance while it was allegedly transporting alcohol.

According to Mahmud, the university administration has remained silent on this matter.

Role of administration in question

Proctor ASM Feroze-ul-Hasan has expressed concerns about the decline in cultural and moral values among university students. He emphasised that the university administration takes action upon receiving information and complaints of crimes committed at different times. However, Hasan noted that in many cases, due to a lack of complaints, there is no trial or follow-up action taken.

The vice-chancellor of the university, Nurul Alam, said, “There are no exemptions for criminals within the university community. Those who remain in the hall after being expelled for various crimes have no right to stay there. I am instructing immediate action to identify and remove those who have been expelled."

Professor Anwarullah Bhuiyan from the university's philosophy department has voiced his belief that if the university administration had prosecuted criminals, the incidence of crimes would not have escalated. He asserted that leaders and members of the ruling student organisation have been implicated in various criminal activities on multiple occasions within the university. The administration does not bring them to justice.

He said, on one hand, these factors highlight the administration's lack of judgment, while on the other hand, they underscore its inefficiency and incompetence. As a result, these circumstances contribute to the increase in crimes.