PM wants end to ‘torture cells’

Pledges highest punishment for Abrar killers

Ahammad Foyez | Published: 17:12, Oct 09,2019 | Updated: 23:31, Oct 09,2019


Prime minister Sheikh Hasina briefs media on the outcome of her recent tours of India and the US at Ganabhaban on Wednesday. -- BSS photo

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said that she will ask the law enforcement agencies to conduct drives at student dormitories at every public university and colleges across the country to free them from ‘torture centres’.

The prime minister and ruling Awami League president made the announcement at a press conference at her official residence Ganabhaban two days after Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology student Abrar Fahad Rabbi was killed allegedly tortured by a group of activists of the BUET unit Bangladesh Chhatra League, student associate body of the ruling party.

The press conference was arranged to brief media about her recent visit to India and participation in United Nations General Assembly.

Abrar was tortured for several hours at a room of Sher-e-Bangla Hall which was reportedly used by Chhatra League leaders as a torture cell. 

She said that hooliganism by students would not be acceptable as they were studying and living on the dormitories on government subsidy.

The prime minister also assured that maximum punishment will be meted out to those involved in the killing of Abrar.

She also questioned the necessity of the movement by students when the government is taking action against the offenders.

‘What was the reason of this movement? The trial must be held. It is necessary to feel the pain of a mother or a father who lost their children. I understand it as I lost all of them — my father, mother and bothers,’ the prime minister said.

Hasina said that immediately after she was informed about the killing, she asked the inspector general of police to arrest all the people involved in the incident without considering political identity.

‘I asked IGP to collect evidences from the room and collect the CCTV footage,’ she said, adding that she did not understand why students cordoned police officers after they collected CCTV footage.

‘Were there any killers among the protesters? Did they fear that their identity would be disclosed?’ asked the prime minister.

She said that behaviour of the protestors with BUET vice-chancellor was unlike that of students.

About the killers who are Chhatra League post holding leaders, the prime minister said there were some who were always party-hopping to permanently be in the government party politics.

She, however, said that the government was determined to give highest punishment to the killers though no previous government ensured punishment of the culprits involved in killing on campuses.

‘I am considering an offender as offender. Political identity is not important here,’ she clarified.

‘He (Abrar) was the son of a just another ordinary family. What is the reason behind picking him up and brutally beating this brilliant student? So, all kinds of highest punishment will be given to them,’ the prime minister said.

Abrar, 21, a resident of Sher-e-Bangla Hall of BUET, was pronounced dead around 3:00am on Monday by BUET medical officer M Mashuk Elahi after he was cruelly beaten allegedly by Chhatra League leaders and activists for his Facebook post written in criticism of agreements on sharing of Feni river water and supply of gas with India during the Prime Minister’s recent India visit.

On banning of politics on campus, the prime minister said that nothing happened that would necessitate a ban on student politics.

She said there was no politics behind the murder of Abrar.

When a journalist pressed on and cited that BUET students were demanding ban on student politics, the Prime Minister said that the authorities of BUET can ban student politics on the campus if the university wants to do it.

Responding to another question on the safety and security of the BUET demonstrators, the prime minister said that law enforcers were deployed at the periphery of the campus as there was an obligation of police deployment on the campus.

‘Who will ensure the safety and security of the protestors and How,’ she questioned and added that if the movement continued who would take the responsibility if any incident took place?

About the ongoing ‘rectification drive’, the prime minister said that the drive would continue to curb corruption and other irregularities.

She said that the authorities concerned asked to find a venue to allow casino business legally.

She said, if needed, casino zone will be created at Bhashan Char Island. 

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