IU students’ lifetime expulsion: Safety of Fulpori must be ensured
The expulsion of five students, including the leaders of Chhatra League, for life in the case of torturing Fulpori Khatun, a student of Kushtia Islami University (EB), will be identified as a befitting punishment for the crime. However, the university authorities did not take this decision spontaneously. They made this decision following the directions of the High Court.
On 15 July, the university’s student disciplinary committee decided to expel a residential hall unit BCL vice-president Sanjida Chowdhury and four others from all academic, residential and other activities for a year for torturing a first year student, Fulpori Khatun. The High Court said the way the guilty students were punished was not appropriate.
Instead, it asked the university authorities to follow Code of Conducts of the Students, 1987 to determine the punishment of the five guilty students. An HC bench of Justice JBM Hasan and Justice Razik Al Jalil passed the order on 26 July. After that the university syndicate expelled the five for life.
A fresher of the finance and banking department was tortured and intimidated by the then IU unit BCL vice-president Sanjida Chowdhury alias Antora and her associates in Deshratna Sheikh Hasina Hall on the campus on 12 February night.
After she complained to the university administration, the incident sparked widespread criticism across the country. Following this, Supreme Court lawyer and a former student of IU, Gazi Md Mohsin filed a writ petition attaching media reports seeking punitive action against the involved students.
The incident has raised many questions. People of the country expect good behaviour from those who come to study in the country's notable educational institutions. BCL members were angry with Fulpori for not taking permission from the Chhatra League leader before getting into residential hall. Then they detained her in the hall room and tortured her.
It is shocking to consider that leaders and members of any student organisation could be involved in such actions. In the past, student organisations used to compete in welcoming new students to universities. An incident of a student being harassed in such an institution for not seeking permission is deeply concerning.
Those responsible for the crimes at the Islamic University have been appropriately punished. However, the leaders and activists who carried out these acts under the umbrella of the organisation that committed the crime – does the organization bear no responsibility? Even after the Fulpori incident, there were reports of hazing in two student dormitories.
Previously, 20 students were given the death penalty and 5 students were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Abrar Fahad at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; all of them were leaders and activists of the BCL. How can the student organization shirk the responsibility for ruining their lives? These violent activities cannot be permitted to persist under the guise of student politics.
The provost and resident faculty members are accountable for ensuring the safety of students in university dormitories. This responsibility must be diligently upheld. University authorities should take stricter measures to prevent such acts of harassment against students.
After the incident, concerns about Fulpori's safety have also been raised. University authorities have stated their intention to take necessary measures for her protection.
However, if the leaders and members of the organisation who have been punished seek revenge, there remains a serious concern about Fulpori's safety. As a security precaution, she has been assigned a seat in another dormitory. Our demand is to guarantee Fulpori's safety both within the campus and outside of it.