BCL president plotted to cover up the incident right from the start

Representational photoProthom Alo illustration

Chittagong University (CU) student, who was sexually harassed on the campus, first informed Rezaul Haque, president of Bangladesh Chhatra League’s CU unit, about the incident.

On that very night, Rezaul Haque showed her a photo of Azim Hossain, a student of the history department (later expelled) and a follower of the BCL president, and got confirmed who were involved in the incident. And the attempts to cover up the incident started right after that.

The victim spoke to Prothom Alo for the fourth time in the afternoon on Sunday. She has described the entire incident to Prothom Alo over the phone. She said five youths sexually harassed her on the campus at around 10.00pm on 17 July. The incident took place in the Botanical Garden area of the campus.

Describing the incident of that night, she told Prothom Alo that she called CU unit BCL president Rezaul Haque after the incident at around 12.00am from another person’s cell phone.

Rezaul was at the roundabout of the campus that time. Rezaul came to meet the victim at around 3.00am and listened to the entire incident and showed the victim photos of several people, including accused Azim. After seeing those photos, the victim identified Azim. After that, she returned to the hall.

The next day, CU unit BCL vice-president Nasir Uddin came in front of her hall. The victim said, “Nasir Uddin came and said there were even incidents of rape on the campus before. None of the accused has been brought to book. So will be in your case too."

After that she went to the office of proctor Rabiul Hasan Bhuiyan to lodge a complaint at around 12.00pm. However, no one was at the office. The proctor came to the office at around 3.00pm. In between, Rezaul Haque intervened. The victim said Rezaul Haque came and took her out of the office and asked to mention only the incident of snatching excluding the incident of video recording from the complaint.

She said, “Rezaul was saying many things. He said, ‘If you write those things, you will not be able to marry. Leave it to me. I will take care of everything."

Therefore, she couldn’t file the complaint that day. After that, she went to the house of an acquaintance on the campus. Since then Rezaul couldn’t contact her anymore. Later on 19 July, the victim filed a complaint in writing to the proctor secretly at around 11.00am. She lodged a case with the Hathazari police station the next day. Meanwhile, the students of different departments started a movement demanding justice for the incident.

In the face of the students' agitation, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said they had arrested five in connection with the incident some five days after it happened. Among the arrestees, Azim and Nurul Abser were CU students. Later, RAB handed over the accused to Hathazari police station. The court sent them to prison. After the arrest, the university authorities expelled two students permanently.

At one point of the incident, Reazul could no longer contact the victim. However, he called her father. She said Rezaul contacted his father at least five times after the case was filed. He used to call her father between 1.00am and 2.00am and asked my father to tell me not to tell anyone that they had forbidden me to file any complaint in writing.”

Asked about these allegations, Rezaul Haque told Prothom Alo, “I showed her photos of several people, including Azim. But she couldn’t identify anyone. Besides, I haven’t obstructed anyone from lodging any complaint.”

Meanwhile, a CU student said she would return to the classes very soon. She said she had been staying at home for a month. However, she would return to class very soon. University proctor Rabiul Hasan Bhuiyan said they would do everything possible to ensure the victim’s safety.

*This report appeared on the online version of Prothom Alo and has be rewritten in English by Ashish Basu