On 19 September, two female students of the Chittagong University complained of harassment to the proctorial body of the university. Later, that complaint was transferred to the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Center of Chittagong University. However, the complaint has not been addressed even after 10 months of the incident.
Speaking to Prothom Alo on Sunday, one of the victims of that incident said the complaint committee of the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Center had questioned both of them multiple times after the incident. But there was no further progress after that.
She lamented and said, “Instead of punishing the offenders, proctor Rabiul Hasan Bhuiyan lied about them to the media. The proctor said the victims had forgiven the four accused after the incident. However, nothing like this actually happened. We did not pardon any of the accused.”
Rabiul Hasan Bhuiyan told Prothom Alo at his office that one of the members of the Complaint Committee had told him that the victims had forgiven the accused. This is why he gave such a statement to the media.
Earlier, on the night of 16 September, four members of Chhatra League harassed the two students on campus at around 11.00pm. The four Chhatra League members are – Md Junaid, a student of the Department of Arabic at the university, Rubel Hasan from the Department of Islamic History and Culture and Emon Ahmed and RH Raju from the Department of Philosophy. All of these accused were second-year students at the time. They are known to be the followers of Rezaul Haque, president of Chhatra League’s university unit.
The Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Center of the university held a meeting last Saturday evening after the protest of the students over the harassment of a university student at the Charukala Institute in the city. In the meeting, it was decided to expel all the four accused for one year. Besides, another decision was taken to warn the accused in two other cases of harassment. The university authorities will officially inform the media bout these decisions in a press conference on Monday.
SM Monirul Hasan, acting registrar of the university, said he had not received any letter regarding these decisions as of Sunday evening. Therefore, he could not provide any detail on this.
However, a member of the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Centre, willing to be unnamed, told Prothom Alo that they had three complaints in hand. And they will take action in all three cases.
On 17 July, a female student of the campus was sexually harassed and beaten up by five youths on the campus. One of the friends of the victim was also beaten up at the time for protesting. Two days after the incident, the victims lodged a complaint to the proctor on Tuesday. A day later, she filed a case with the Hathazari police station in this regard.
The campus was in turmoil since Wednesday, after the incident came to light. On the very night of the incident, the female students came out of the hall and took position in front of the vice-chancellor's residence in protest. The teachers and students continued protesting together on Thursday as well. In the meantime, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested five youths in connection with the incident.
Police want to question the five accused
Meanwhile, the police want to interrogate the five accused, including two Chhatra League activists. They sought a seven-day remand for questioning. Farzana Yeasmin, judicial magistrate of Chattogram, fixed Tuesday as the day for hearing on the remand plea. The same court had ordered to send former student Hathajari Government College, Saiful Islam, also a accused in the case, to prison.
The other accused are – Mohammad Azim, a second-year student of the history department at CU, Nurul Absar, a second-year student of anthropology department at CU, Nur Hossain, a first-year student of the sociology department at the Hathazari Government College and Masud Rana, an honours second-year student.
Of them, Azim and Absar are members of Chhatra League. They both were expelled from the university for Life.
Ruhul Amin, officer-in-charge (OC) of the Hathazari police station, “The court will hear our plea for a seven-day remand for the accused on Tuesday. If we get permission, we will try to figure out why they have done this.”
Chhatra League involved in past incidents too
The Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Center had three had received complaints of three previous incidents so far. In 2018, a female student filed a complaint against a teacher. In another incident, a female student complained against a student of the university. Apart from that, another complaint was lodged on 19 September last year on the allegation of harassing two female students on campus. The last of these three incidents involved four Chhatra League members. All of them are known in the campus as followers of Rezaul Haque, president of the university unit Chhatra League.
Pratyay Nafak, president of Chittagong University Student Union, was not surprised when the name of Chhatra League activists came up in a case of harassing and abusing a female student.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said, “The members and activists of Chhatra League thinks nobody will dare to protest even if they torture or abuse someone and the administration will not be able to take any action against them. Because of this , the leaders and activists of Chhatra League keep committing these sorts of crimes.”
There are several complaints against the members of Chhatra League including demanding extortion from the contractors, clashes over establishing control in the residential halls and clashes over taking control of the campus-centered businesses. Although the leaders and activists of the Chhatra League are involved in vandalising the rooms of the halls, the authorities do not take any action against them.
Asked about these allegations, Rezaul Haque, president of Chittagong University Chhatra League, told Prothom Alo, “Chhatra League is a big political entity where people from different backgrounds are involved. The organisation will not bear the responsibility if someone commits any crime individually.”