Fierce protests erupted in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country as a student of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology was beaten to death early Monday at his university hall allegedly by activists of ruling Awami League-backed student organisation Bangladesh Chhatra League.
He was murdered several hours after Chhatra League leaders and activists of the university unit reportedly picked him up for ‘interrogation’ over his critical view of allowing India to withdraw Bangladesh river water and use ports.
The body of the 21-year-old Abrar Fahad, a second-year student of electrical and electronic engineering, bore marks of serious bruises, said Dhaka Medical College Hospital forensic medicine expert Sohel Mahmud.
He said that Abrar was beaten to death by blunt objects like bamboo sticks or cricket stumps.
‘Bleeding and pain resulted in his death,’ he said.
Fellow students said that Abrar was called away by two students from his ground floor room at Sher-e-Bangla Hall at about 8:00pm on Sunday.
He was taken to another room on the first floor of the multi-storey hall where he was grilled and his electronic devices including a laptop computer and a mobile phone were searched.
Abrar reportedly made Facebook posts on October 5 criticising the government for allowing India to withdraw water from the Feni River of Bangladesh, access the Mongla seaport and for agreeing to supply gas to India.
A video footage that went viral showed that the victim was taken to the staircase leading to the ground floor by a group of students after 1:00am on Monday.
‘I saw some students were taking him to the staircase but stopped midway when they called the university physician between 2:00am and 2:15am,’ said security guard Mohammad Mostafa, who was on night-time duty.
He said that all of them were students of the same university but declined to name them.
University physician Mashuk Elahi said that he was called by resident students of the hall at about 3:00am and Abrar had breathed his last before his arrival, adding that there were injury marks all over his body.
Lalbagh additional deputy commissioner Kamal Hossain said that police recovered Abrar’s body from Sher-e-Bangla Hall after the hall authorities informed them.
The police launched an investigation into the killing following a first information report filed by his father and seized cricket stumps from the room 2011.
They also identified at least 19 people suspected to be involved in the killing from CCTV footage recorded at the building.
‘One of the cricket stumps got broken as it might have been used to kill Abrar,’ said Dhaka Metropolitan Police senior assistant commissioner Sirajul Islam.
Terming the killing as an ‘unexpected and tragic death’, the university in a statement said that the police arrested nine people and a committee was formed to investigate the incident.
The arrested students include university unit BUET Chhatra League general secretary Mehedi Hasan Russell, vice-president Muhtasim Fuad, organising secretary Mehedi Hasan Robin, sports secretary Meftahul Islam Jiyon, literary affairs secretary Moniruzzaman Monir, deputy social affairs secretary Ifti Mosharraf Shokal, deputy office secretary Mostafa Rafid and member Muntasir Al Jemmy.
Chhatra League expelled the arrested eight students and three others for their reported involvement in the murder. The three other expelled Chhatra League activists are information and research secretary Anik Sarker and members Ehtemamul Rabbi Tanim and Mujahidur Rahman.
Abrar’s roommates and neighbours said that Ehteshamul Rabbi Tanim and Muntasir Al Jemy, both of the 17th batch, came to room1011 and took him to room 2011 saying that ‘seniors are calling you’.
BUET Chhatra League deputy office secretary Mujtaba Rafid, a third-year student of chemical engineering, deputy social secretary Iftee Mosharraf Shokal, deputy law secretary Amit Shaha, sports secretary Meftahul Islam Zion, information and research secretary Anik Sharkar allegedly took part in the torture that led his death.
Police said that they detained for interrogation BCL BUET unit vice-president Mustakim Fuad, general secretary Mehedi Hasan Russel, information and research affairs secretary Anik Sarker and sports secretary Meftahul Islam Zion, Tanvirul Abedin Ethan of Mechanical Engineering department and another student named Jisan.
BUET Chhatra League assistant secretary Ashikul Islam Bitu claimed that some of their leaders took Abrar to the room to probe his involvement in the politics of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and found evidence of his involvement in Shibir politics after checking his cell phone, laptop computer and Facebook profile.
The victim’s family said that Abrar was not involved in any political activities.
The BCL central unit in a statement later condemned the ‘unexpected incident’ and claimed that the student body did not endorse and support the politics of killing.
It also formed a two-member committee to conduct an inquiry into the incident and called upon the law-enforcing agencies to find out the perpetrators.
Tension persisted on the university campus demanding justice as around 1,000 police personnel were deployed at BUET and its adjacent Dhaka University to avoid untoward incidents.
Following the murder, students of Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, Jagannath University, Islamic University and other universities staged demonstrations on their campuses demanding justice.
The Progressive Students Alliance and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal brought out separate processions on the Dhaka University campus protesting against the murder.
The Communist Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Chhatra Union, Bangladesh Chhatra Federation, Bangladesh Chhatra League (Jasad) in separate statements condemned the killing and demanded punishment of the killers.
Bangladesh Chhatra League’s acting central president Al Nahian Khan Joy said that if any Chhatra League activist was found involved in the murder due action would be taken against them.
Victim’s father Barkat Ullah said that his son was not involved in any political parties.
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