Public universities or battle grounds? 147 killed in five universities since liberation

Issue, National

With heart full of hopes and ambition of a bright future brilliant student Saad Ibn Momtaaz took admission in Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh. But the polluted student politics and bankruptcy of the national politics killed the dreams of Saad by killing him literally. With his brutal demise the dreams of his family and friends were snatched away too.
Not only Sadd but also Abu Bakar Siddique of Dhaka University, Sharifuzzaman Nomani, Sohel, Rustom, Nasim of Rajshahi University, Zubayer of Jahangirnagar University have also been the victims of the corrupted and murderous politics that is eating this country from the inside.
Instead of being the nurturing places for independent progressive thinking and free expression, the university campuses are often turned into the battle fields. The university campuses have become the alter upon which the victims of power politics are sacrificing their lives. Clashes between political factions often use modern and lethal weapons. These violent incidents have claimed the lives of some 147 students thus far. These terrible incidents of killing are primarily the result of establishing dominance in the campus and dormitories and controlling tender businesses. No incident of political killing in the university campuses has been tried yet.
That is the often-seen scenario in the country’s top educational institution – University of Dhaka, once known as the Oxford of the East. Nothing has changed since the independence of the country in 1971. Inter and/or intra party clashes continue, attacks on rivals are frequently seen. The scenario of terror exists in the country’s top 5 public universities as well.
A total of 147 students lost their lives in political conflicts in the five autonomous public universities – University of Dhaka (DU), Jahangirnagar University (JU), University of Rajshahi (RU), Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) and University of Chittagong (CU).
The last victim of the student politics, Saad Ibne Momtaz, 23, a final-year student of Fisheries Faculty of the BAU, succumbed to his injuries at a private clinic on April 1 2014, a day after BCL men had beaten him up brutally with cricket stumps and iron rods in room No-205 of Ashraful Haque Hall in the campus.
Probe committees are always formed by the concerned university authorities following every killing; cases are always filed too. But in the end the cases always get lost in the political hurly-burly. As a result the relatives of the deceased never see the murderers being tried.

Government, administration remain silent due to political backing of violence and the perpetrators:
The Awami League promised in Article 10 (iii) under ‘Other Important Programs’ in its election manifesto (“A Charter for Change”) that “educational institutions will be rid of terrorism and session backlogs. Science and technology education will be especially encouraged.” Some 24 political killing of students have been reported since the Awami League government came to power in 2009.
Some 147 were killed in political conflicts and clashes in the 5 public university campuses. A glimpse at the number killed and where the murders occurred are listed below:

University – Number of Student killed (1972 -2014):
University of Dhaka –74
University of Rajshahi  –27
University of Chittagong –24
Bangladesh Agricultural University-16
Jahangirnagar University – 6

Dhaka University:
Abu Bakar Siddique, a resident of the A F Rahman Hall of Dhaka University was killed on February 1, 2010 in BCL internal clash. Siddique’s murder trial has not seen the daylight as of yet.
Abu Bakar Siddique, who secured the first position in department of Islamic History and Culture in University of Dhaka (DU), was hoping to become a teacher in the country’s top educational institution. But all those hopes and expectations were lost by a bullet.
Concern probe committee of the university submitted a probe report but Abu Bakar’s family is yet to see the trial of their son’s killing.
On September 15, 2004, Mahabubul Islam Khokon, a leader of Johorul Haque unit JCD, was killed during an  intra-party clash. Two probe committees were formed but the reports have not been submitted till this day. A case was filed with the Shahbag Police Station and the trial proceedings have not ended yet. The Killers are now roaming around DU campus openly.

On April 23, 1998, Partha Protim Acaharya, a leader of BCL was killed. Following the incident another BCL activist of Jagannnath Hall unit was also killed during an intra-clash of the hall unit.
Arif, a resident of the Bangabandhu hall was shot dead following JCD intra-party conflicts in 1997. Separate probe committees were formed in every incident, but no committee submitted reports.
BCL activist Tonay was killed in front of Curzon Hall on July 11, 1992. Another student named Shahin was found dead inside the hall in the same year.
On February 21, 1990, Alamgir Kabir, resident of Surja Sen hall, was killed in an internal clash. Chunnu, president of Johurul Haque hall unit BCL was shot dead in a clash with Jatiya Samajtantrik Dol Chttara League (JSDCL – an offshoot of Bangladesh Chattra League) Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall unit. Shahin, resident of  Fazlul Haque hall, was found dead inside the hall on the same day.
On the eventful November 27, 1990, Dr. Milon was killed when he got trapped in a crossfire during a gunfight between the JCD and Chattara Sangram Porishad.
Kofil Uddin of JSDCL was gunned down during a gunfight between the JCD and JSDCL in front of Modhur Canteen on February 9, 1989. Arif, a student of the Finance department, was killed by heavily armed assailants on December 29 of that year.
Bajul Rashid was killed on December 11, 1988. A clash between JCD and JSDCL left the JCD activist Halim dead on the next day of that clash. Muna of JSDCL received bullet-injuries on head in a clash between JCD and JSDCL at S.M. Hall.
On March 1987, a bomb blasted in room no. 426 of Mohsin hall killing Bablu, a leader of JCD and his two associates Moinuddin and Nur Mohammad.
In addition, Joynul in 1983, Raufun Bosunia in 1985, Honu and Gopa in 1977 were shot dead. Alsam was killed in a clash centering the election of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU).

Among the killings, Seven Murder at Mohsin hall on April 4, 1974 has been the the most-talked about incident of killing. The prime accused of seven murder case, Shofiul Alam Prodhan, the then BCL general secretary, along with all the other accused were sentenced to life term imprisonment. But when general Zia took the office, all the accused released.
No one, even the DU authorities, have complete record of how many students have been killed in total. Information from different sources indicate a total of 74 students have been killed since 1972.

Rajshahi University:
29 students have been subjected to political killing in RU since liberation. Following intra-party conflicts among BCL, Rustom Ali, a third year student of Political Science Department, was killed by his fellows at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Hall of the university on April 4 this year.
Earlier Abdullah Mahmud a.k.a Sohel and Nasrullah Nasim was victims of intra party clashes in ruling Awami League’s student wing Chhatra League.
Sohel was killed in an open fire by the existing RU unit BCL committee general secretary Touhid Al Tuhin on July 16, 2012.
Nasim was flung from rooftops of a 2-storied building on August 15, 2010. Nine days later he succumbed to his injuries and died at a hospital. 4 and half year after Nasim’s murder the trial of Nasim’s killing has not completed yet. Sources at Motihar Police Station told that 25 accused out of 35 have recently been granted bail from the High Court.
Earlier on February 8 night in 2010, Faruk Hossain, resident of Shahmokhdum hall and masters student of Mathematics department was killed in a bloody trio clash among Chhatra League, Chhatra Shibir and Police on the campus.
On March 13, 2009, Sharifuzzaman Nomani, general secretary of Rajshahi University unit Shibir was hacked to death during a clash with the BCL. Investigation officers of Nomani killing case had been dismissed without and the defendants were exonerated as the plaintiff could not attend the court due to fear of being attacked or arrested.
In January 2004, Shibir activist Saifudddin was killed during a clash between JCD and Shibir over territorial control at the campus. No trial has taken place in connection with this killing.

in 1993, a total of four leader and activists connected with leftist politics were killed in clashes. In 1995 two Shibir leaders were murdered.
Shibir activists Azibur Rahman was killed in   May 7, 1992, Khalirur Rahman in June 22, 1990, Shofiqul Islam in April 18, 1989. Moreover, Aslam Hossain and AzgorAli were killed in 1988.
Four activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir and one BCL activist were killed on March 11, 1982 when they openly organized a fresher’s reception program. Clash erupted then as other progressive students’ organization barred the function triggering a bloody clash.
Apart from these incidents 12 other students lost their lives in inter and/or intra party clashes at the university.

Chittagong University:
24 students have been killed at the CU since liberation.
In February 2012, Masud bin Habib, a student of English, was the general secretary of Shibir at the Suhrawardy Hall unit and activist Mujahidul Islam, a student of Zoology was killed in a clash with BCL.
BCL activist Asad was killed on April 15, 2010 while on December 19, 1999 two students were killed in an attack by BCL men.
Sonjoy Tolapattra of Bangladesh Chhatra Union (BCU) was killed in 1998.
In 1988, Aminul Islam, a 2nd year student of Statistics department, was killed. A probe committee was formed and the committee submitted the probe report breaking the tradition. No probe committee had ever submitted their investigation report.
Another 15 students were killed in separate clashes and attacks. Over 100 probe committees have been formed to date to investigate campus violence at the CU.

Bangladesh Agricultural University:
There have been incidents of 16 killing, including that of Saad Ibn Momtaaz’s, that took place at the campus of BAU.
Saad Ibn Momtaaz, fourth year student of Fisheries department and also an activist of BCL of the university unit is the last victim in the campus. He was killed by fellow BCL cadres and following a trivial matter on April 1.
Rabbi, a 10-year-old madrasha student was killed in a gunfight between two factions of BCL on the campus on January 19, 2011.
In 2001 JCD leader Rezaul Karim Hasu was shot dead during an intra-party dispute, two BCL men Kamal and Ranjit were killed in a clash with JCD in 1996.
In 1995, four Islami Chhatra Shibir men, Alauddin, Showkat, Kabir and Jahir, were shot dead in a fierce clash among BCL, JCD and ICS.
In 1993, Rezaul Karim Shabuj was killed in a JCD intra-party gunfight centering tender dropping while Gaza, a college student was killed in a violent clash between Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) and employees of the BAU in 1994.
JCD leader ATM Khaled was killed in an inter-party clash on January 11, 1983.  Following the killing, three leaders of BAU Central Students’ Union Shaokat, Wali and Mohsin, loyal to BCL, were shot dead on the campus next day by JCD.
In 1973, BAU witnessed the killing of one Ranjit during a fierce clash.

Jahangirnagar University:
Zubaer Ahmed, final year student of English department was mercilessly beaten up. He succumbed to his serious injuries subsequently and died at the United Hospital on January 9, 2012.

In 1997 Ananda Kumar of BCL was shot dead from a point blank range as a result of intra party conflicts. Sawkat Kabir Dipu was killed in an intra party clash.
In 1973 Rokon, then general secretary of Jahangirnagar University Central Students’ Union (JUCSU), was killed. On November 12, 1974 Mojzammwel Haque, the then elected vice president of JUCSU, was shot dead.
Why violence prevails in the campuses?
In reality, mainstream political parties closely take care of their so called “student wings”. Student politicians are used by powerful leaders. They engage in extortion, tender businesses etc.

The student leaders and activists engage in violence for maintaining dominance and make profit from the political activities. But the trends of violence in students have not been created overnight and cannot be prevented at once.
If proper steps had been taken and exemplary punishment had been given the killing would not surely have gone on like we have witnessed.

How can we get rid of the violent power politics and killings at the universities?
The teachers will have to be brave enough to reject and rebuff the political influence over the institutions from the political parties otherwise the violence cannot be kept at bay.
We have not been able to keep the educational institutions politics free but we have managed to keep the politics education free. Authorities have no willingness to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is the core of the problem.
These terrible incidents of murder at public universities is increasingly creating fear among the brilliant students and they are frantically trying to go abroad for higher studies. Indeed many students are leaving the country to study abroad. Session jam has been increasing for indefinite period at the campuses that is creating frustration among the students.

Universities are not outside the boubds of law. The rule of law must prevail and that is the only way to prevent the murderous violence at the universities. Otherwise, we have no hope.
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