Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) student Abrar Fahad has been murdered for expressing views. On social media he criticised a number of pacts recently signed between Bangladesh and India. And he was beaten to death for this criticism. Students of his university have killed him, all of them leaders and activists of the ruling party’s student front Chhatra League.
On Facebook, Abrar wrote, ‘After the partition of the country, the government made a request to use Kolkata port for six months as there were no sea ports in the western region. Failing to get the permission, the government was compelled to open the Mongla Port before its inauguration in order to tackle the famine. But now India is being invited to use Mongla Port.”
Mentioning the dispute over water sharing between two Indian states, Abrar wrote, “Whereas a state of a country is unwilling to give water to another state, we will give water to the country without anything in exchange.” Abrar similarly criticised the gas deal.
The body of Abrar, a second year student of Electric and Electronic Department, was lying on the stairs of the second floor of Sher-e Bangla Hall of BUET. People reacted strongly to the news of the heinous killing.
In the beginning it was said Abrar was beaten dead on suspicion of being a Shibir member. When such news was published on Monday, innumerable Facebook users vehemently criticised this. Dhaka University teacher Fahmidul Haque wrote on Facebook, “Somebody can be killed without any reason simply if he or she is Shibir!’
When the ‘Facebook status’ of Abrar Fahad was disclosed, the issue ‘murder on suspicion of Shibir’ lost ground. Facebook users shared Abrar Fahad’s Facebook status some 33,000 times till Monday night. Many of them have said that they have the same opinion for which Abrar was murdered.
Abrar being murdered for expressing his opinion was discussed by all quarters including in the social media on Monday. Even ruling Awami League’s general secretary Obaidul Quader commented on the matter.
Talking to reporters at the secretariat on Monday, he said, “So far as I understand, nobody has the right to kill someone for expressing different opinions.”
He also said, “BNP expressed its different opinion, saying we have sold the country during our India tour. Should we kill BNP for this? Will we kill the leaders who said this?”
Obaidul Quader said, “Those who have carried out the murder out of emotion will be found.”
Murders took place for expressing different opinions in the past too. Several writers and bloggers were killed by militants. There are a lot of instances of cases and arrests for writing different opinions in the social media.
Former BUET student and Australia expatriate Zayed Ullas on Monday wrote on Facebook “You may be murdered for giving a minor status, you may lose your job and be harassed.” Teacher of anthropology at Dhaka University, Rasheda Rawnak Khan, wrote on Facebook, “It is unimaginable to think that the intolerance has reached to such a level that Abrar has been killed for a status! How will the boys lead the country if they cannot accept a Facebook status? Whom so we teach, with whom so we dream, who will lead in future?”
Rights activist and Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) trusty board chairperson Sultana Kamal said to Prothom Alo, “We have been a role model of development all over the world. We are claiming that whole world is looking to us. The prime minister recently got a prize for peace. She has been awarded as mother of humanity. But what society and state are we are living in?”
“Someone may dissent. We may not agree to someone’s analysis. Can we beat someone to death? How do we claim to be civilized if we live in such a social and political culture? How are we claiming to be developed? How are we progressing? How can we claim that we are fulfilling even a single condition of humanity?’
Sultana Kamal also said, “The student who was murdered was a youth and those who killed are also youth. How did we allow such ferocity in the mind of young people? We all are responsible for this. All including our society, social culture and politics are responsible for this. This is a serious violation of human rights. The matter should be treated in this way. Those who have done this should face such a situation so that they are repentant of their act. Seeing their consequence, others must realise that dissenting views cannot be controlled in this way.”
*This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.