THE murder of a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, who died after he had been beaten in a room in his hall of residence by his fellow students, said to be leaders and activists of the Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, is shocking and unexpected. The second-year student, Abrar Fahad, as New Age reported on Tuesday, was called out of his room about 8:00pm on Sunday by two of his fellows and was taken into a room on the first floor of the university’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall. He is reported to have been interrogated allegedly in connection with a Facebook posting by the group and was then beaten with blunt objects. A video footage which went viral on the social media shows that the victim was being carried down the stairs to the ground floor early Monday. The security guard of the hall, who said that he had seen some students carrying Abrar downstairs and calling the university physician, said that the group members in question were all students of the university. The university physician also said that he had received a call from hall residents but Abrar had died before he could be reached to the hospital and that the body had severe bruising.
The police later in the day, after the victim’s father had filed a first information report, launched an investigation, identified 19 people, either leaders or activists of the Chhatra League, suspected to have been involved in the torture, and set up a committee to investigate the incident. The police till Tuesday evening arrested 10 of the suspects, who are either leaders on the committees of the university and hall unit Chhatra League or activists of the student organisation. But what has so far followed brings to the fore an ugly head that the Chhatra League has raised riding on the wings of a culture of impunity, caused by delay in justice or failure in justice dispensation, that the student organisation thinks it enjoys. A case in example in this connection is the murder of Bishwajit, a tailor aged 24 years who was hacked to death in public by some members of the Chhatra League on December 9, 2012. The trial court on December 18, 2013 found all the 21 accused guilty, sentencing eight to death penalty and 13 to life-term imprisonment. The case has now been pending with the Appellate Division. Justice being delayed effectively means the same as having no redress at all while this creates a sense of impunity in perpetrators and encourages further commission of such crimes.
The government must break the culture of impunity that has showed signs in the case at hand and in what happened in such cases in the past. The government must also rise above any partisan bias to let the case at hand roll to conviction expeditiously so as to break the culture of impunity, to further the rule of law and to afford the victim and the family justice. While the government must not lay its partisan hands on the investigation and the trial, the party in power must also rein in its leaders and activists deterrently.
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