BUET halls rife with torture

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Who will provide security to my son when all this media coverage and wailing in the social media stops. He will have to go back to BUET and who guarantees he would not be another victim of those thugs? This is how an insecure mother of a BUET student insisted that this reporter not to publish the name of her son who was tortured in Sher-e-Bangla hall two years ago.

The student spoke about the brutality he had gone through at the same hall by the same persons who killed Abrar Fahad. He was willing to be interviewed by name.

But his mother did not believe that the torture of the general students would stop once the issue of Abrar killing faded out of focus.

“I don’t believe it will stop. Even if the killers are punished, some new killers will emerge. Can you guarantee my son will not be tortured for saying all this to the media?” she questioned.

On Wednesday and Thursday, this correspondent talked with around 20 students of BUET who were tortured in residential halls of BUET in recent years for every petty reason.

Understandably, none of them would want to disclose their identity fearing reprisal from the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League men once things were back to ‘normal’.

Abrar Fahad was a resident of room number 1011 of Sher-e-Bangla hall. Photo: Galib AshrafJuniors, especially first year students and sophomores, bear the brunt of most of the atrocities for expressing dissent with BCL men, BUET students said.

The reasons of torture ranged from skipping political programmes of the ruling party, to simply for not complying with orders or ‘showing respect’ to BCL leaders.

“In fact, they needed no reason to slap juniors. Around four or five seniors once slapped me for hours for a comment I made on Facebook, a comment they deemed went against their cause,” said a second year student who was beaten by BCL men on the roof of Sher-e-Bangla hall last year.

uReporter page blocked by BTRC
Students also anonymously filed complaints of harassment and torture on a webpage run by the Computer Science and Engineering department.

The students of the CSE department of BUET launched the server titled One Stop Online Reporting System (uRreporter) in 2016.

But Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has blocked the webpage on Wednesday night, BTRC chairman Jahurul Haque confirmed Prothom Alo.

As many as 103 complaints were submitted in two and half years. Among them 37 reports were filed in just two days till Wednesday night.

“Seemingly, the tortured students found recourse in the webpage to share their harrowing experience of torture and were churning out their bitter experience after Abrar killing. I can’t understand whose interests BTRC served by taking down this webpage,” said a BUET student.

The BTRC chairman, however, said that the page has been closed down due to security concerns.

Students complain thick and fast on the webpage
Prior to the closure of the page, a student complained on the server that four men including Ifti Mosharraf Sakal (BME 16), Ashikul Islam Bitu (Chemical 16), Muztaba Rafid (Chemical 16) attacked Ehtesham (EEE 15) at room number 202 of Sher-E-Bangla hall.

All the accused are leaders of BCL BUET unit and are now accused in Abrar killing.

Several complaints were against BUET BCL leader Amit Saha who was resident of the room where Abrar was tortured.

According to another complaint, a student was tortured in Room No 405 of MA Rashid hall in November last year.

The student’s was tortured so badly that a ligament of his leg was torn. All the assailants were BCL leaders.

The room of Sher-e-Bangla hall where Abrar Fahad was tortured to death. Photo: AsaduzzamanSeveral students were beaten for expressing dissent with the government on social media during the safe road movement last year.

Students alleged that BCL made a list of students who they thought are ‘anti-government’ and tortured them.

Torture drove away some from the campus where they dreamt of studying
BUET is considered as one of most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country yet some students had to leave BUET for good.

A student of CSE’16 batch was tortured an entire night by Suhrawardy Hall Chhatra League men led by Hasan Sarwar. The student left BUET and took admission in medical college, a student wrote on the portal.

Asad Rahman of Chapainawabganj got admitted to the Electronics and Electrical Engineering department in BUET in 2017. Hasan Sarwar, student of the Mechanical Engineering department beat him up for four hours, blaming his alleged involvement with Shibir, according to the students.

Traumatised, Asad skipped BUET and got admitted to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College next year.

Failing to ‘salaam’ is a reason for ragging!
“I dreamt of getting admitted in BUET because of its reputation. My dream turned into a nightmare when I and four of my friends were tortured at Ahsanullah Hall in August last year,” said a third year BUET student.

Their fault? A senior BCL leader was offended as they didn’t offer him a ‘salaam' (greetings)!
“Slapping or beating with a cricket stump has been a regular incident at the hall. No one dared to speak up fearing even more torture,” said a second year EEE student.
Avijit Kar, a student of Chemical Engineering department and resident of Ahsanullah Hall, lost his hearing as BCL beat him mercilessly on 27 June, students said.

What steps were taken?
The students alleged that they did not get any remedy from the hall or university authorities as they were either unwilling or unable to take any steps against those BCL leaders.

Associate professor of CSE department Mostofa Akbar, who was in charge of blocked webpage uRreporter, told Prothom Alo on Wednesday, “Our duty is to forward these reports to the concerned authorities. We submitted the reports to DSW two months ago.”

Students' Welfare director Mizanur Rahman said he was given charge only three months ago.

“I received three complaints of ragging in hall level and took measures against the accused,” he told Prothom Alo.

BUET Teachers’ Association president AKM Masud told Prothom Alo that the university authorities cannot shun the responsibility over the recurrence of such incidents

“There is no doubt that violence spread in residential halls due to failure of the authorities. Had they taken proper steps earlier, this type of incidents could never have happened.”

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