The Chhatra League leaders who tortured Abrar Fahad were insisting the physician and university authorities immediately take away dead Abrar from the hall to elsewhere putting oxygen mask on him.
Mohammad Mashuk Elahi, medical officer at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s medical centre, was called in to Sher-e-Bangla Hall at the predawn hours, and when he reached there the Chhatra League leaders, accused of killing Abrar, were in a hurry to dump the body.
He refused to put oxygen mask on Abrar and examined him at about 3:00am on Monday and found him dead, and informed the hall authorities.
‘His body was cold…There were other indications that suggested that he died at least one hour ago before I examined him,’ said Mashuk.
He said he was called over the phone at about 2:45am and the caller told him that a student was suffering from respiratory problems and requested to come sharp.
‘Around 15 to 20 students repeatedly insisted me to immediately put oxygen musk on Abrar’sface and immediately took a stretcher from our ambulance to take him out of the hall. As I did not know anything of the patient, I denied and told them let me check what he actually needs,’ he said.
Mashuk said he found Abrar dead and lying on a mattress soaked with urine on the landing of the staircase between first floor and ground floor.
The university’s student welfare director Mizanur Rahman and the just-resigned hall provost Zafar Iqbal Khan, among others, also were informed immediately and they reached by 3:15am and called police, he said.
Student welfare director Mizanur Rahman said the Chhatra League leaders were putting pressure on them to move the body from the hall. ‘I refused and told them as it is now a matter of police, I cannot move the body’.
He said he only knew the university unit Chhatra League general secretary Mehedi Hasan Russel among the students present there. ‘Basically, Russell was putting pressure on us. I spoke to the vice-chancellor and he instructed me to call the police.’
Mizanur said he initially saw bruises on Abrar’s body and the physician suggested not uncovering the body in public, he said.
A team of police came to the hall much earlier but was kept waiting at the guest room. ‘The police have better relations with the Chhatra League than us. So, we were not informed initially,’ said Mizanur.
The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police was investigating into the case filed by Abrar’s father Barkat Ullah againt 19 with Chawkbazar police station.
At least 13 Chhatra League leaders, most of whom were expelled after Abrar’s death, were being interrogated for five days. ‘We are still interrogating the suspects,’ DB south division’s deputy commissioner Zamil Hasan told New Age.
A Dhaka court on Wednesday remanded three more Chhatra League activists— Shamsul Arefin Rafat, 21, of mechanical engineering, Moniruzzaman Monir, 21, of water resources and Mohammad Akash, 21, of civil engineering — for five days each following their arrest on Tuesday. Rafat was not named in the FIR but was identified by CCTV footage later on, the officials said.
A detective branch official who in the process of interrogating the 13 Chhatra League leaders in custody told New Age that Moniruzzaman Monir, 21, of water resources, called the medical centre.
The detective branch official told New Age BUET Chhatra League general secretary Mehedi Hasan Russel first called the police at about 1:40am to handover a suspected activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir.
‘Russel called me at dead of night and wanted the number of Lalbagh police station to handover a student linked to Shibir. I just forwarded the number…,’ said Shahbagh police station officer-in-charge Abul Hasan.
The detective investigators also said that Russel finally called Chawkbazar police station and asked to send a team to take a Shibir activist and a police team engaged on Durga Puja duty nearby rushed to the hall.
‘But,’ the DB official said, ‘the police team was kept waiting and by that time physician reached the hall’.
The DB official said during the interrogation, the Chhatra League leaders said they called Russel over phone at about 10:30pm on Sunday and informed that Abrar’s condition was deteriorating.
Russel then suggested his fellows —organising secretary Mehedi Hasan Robin of chemical engineering and information and research affairs secretary Anik Sarkar of mechanical engineering —to call the police but none called at that time, said the DB investigator.
‘He could be saved if we were informed by 10:30pm on Sunday,’ said physician Mashuk, adding, his previous experience of similar incident where another student was rescued from torture at midnight, given treatment and later sent to his home.
The Dhaka Medical College coroner Shohel Mahmud who oversaw the Abrar’s post-mortem on Monday afternoon said on Wednesday as the police did not want to know the exact time of his death, he only found out the reason behind the killing.
A 15.05-minute CCTV footage, meanwhile, widely spread on social media also corroborated the time mentioned by the university physician and DB official.
The 21-year-old Abrar was tortured in two phases at room 2011 on the first floor of Sher-e-Bangla Hall after he was taken from his room 1011 on the ground floor of the hall by Chhatra League leaders Ehteshamul Rabbi Tanim and Muntasir Al Jemy for interrogation over his Facebook post.
Of the 13 suspects, the police on Monday arrested BUET Chhatra League general secretary Mehedi Hasan Russel of civil engineering, vice-president Muhtasim Fuad of civil engineering, organising secretary Mehedi Hasan Robin, information and research affairs secretary Anik Sarkar, deputy social welfare secretary Ifti Mosharrf Sakal, sports secretary Meftahul Islam Zion of naval architecture and marine engineering, Ishtiaq Hasan Munna of mechanical engineering, Muntasir Alam Jemi of chemical engineering, Muzahidur Rahman Muzahid of civil engineering departments and Khandaker Tabakkharul Islam Tanvir. On Tuesday, the detectives in a series of operations also arrested Shamsul Arefin Rafat, 21, of mechanical engineering, Moniruzzaman Monir, 21, of water resources at Demra and Mohammad Akash of civil engineering.
The detectives were also looking for Majedul Islam, Hossen Mohammad Toha, Mohmmad Jisan, Mohammad Shamim Billah, Mohammad Shahadat, Mohammad Morshed and Mohammad Moaj, who were named in FIR.
The CCTV video footage also identified more suspects including of Chhatra League’s BUET unit assistant secretary Ashikul Islam Bitu, and his associates Mizan, Galib, Saiful, Ovi and Ismail.
At least 25 people were involved directly or indirectly with the killing as per the CCTV footage and the FIR.
Abrar on October 5 criticised 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 on a Facebook post.
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