Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders and activists who were found involved in criminal activities, even in murders, mostly went unpunished creating a culture of impunity and thus maintaining a reign of terror on campuses across the country, according to observers.
Despite repeated criminal acts by the ruling Awami League-backed student body, law-enforcing agencies apparently remained inactive against them, not arresting and bringing them to the due trial process, according to victims and their families.
In some cases although police arrested few perpetrators they managed to obtain bail while an accused in a murder case managed to flee from the court and leave the country, they mentioned.
In the latest instance, Abrar Fahad, a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, was beaten to death by the university’s BCL unit leaders at his dormitory on October 7 early hours for his critical view over the government’s recent deals with India.
Bangladesh Supreme Court advocate barrister Jyotirmoy Barua said that the trial outcome of any criminal offence depended on how the investigation was carried out and what evidence produced.
‘Politically influential people avoid being punished in serious cases manipulating the investigation and evidence in cooperation with government agencies,’ he said.
Senior advocates and rights activists said that politicisation of institutions ensured their escaping justice during the trial process.
Including Abrar, at least 25 people, mostly university students, were killed by BCL activists in last 10 years at different higher educational institutions including Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, Chattogram University and Jagannath University.
On February 2, 2010, Dhaka University’s F Rahman Hall student Abu Bakar was killed in a BCL intraparty clash over establishing supremacy when he was in his room.
All the accused 10 ex-BCL leaders and activists were relieved of the charges against them in the case as police failed to present evidence against them during the trial process.
Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of human rights organisation Odhikar, said that an extensive politicisation of the government institutions linked to the trial process and the judiciary helped them get away from punishment.
University students said that BCL members had been committing heinous crimes under the shelter of parent party Awami League as it used them in illegal and political activities, for example, like making attacks on students who demanded safe road last year.
BCL acting president Al Nahian Khan Joy said that the BCL was a historical student organisation but some of its activists were involved in illegal acts.
‘We will take action against any leader or activist who would be found guilty of committing unlawful activities,’ he said.
Jahangirnagar University’s English honours final-year student Zubair Ahmed was tortured and stabbed by some BCL activists on January 8, 2012, who succumbed to his injuries at a Dhaka hospital the following day.
In January 2018, the High Court confirmed death sentence for five and life-term imprisonment for two convicts while acquitted four accused in Zubair murder case.
All the BCL leaders and activists convicted in the murder case are fugitive and reportedly fled the country.
Lawyers said that without cooperation of the government agencies no convicted person could leave the country.
Ain O Shalish Kendra executive director Sheepa Hafiz said that the victims did not get justice when any criminal got political shelter.
‘The state failed to ensure justice for the victims in these cases,’ she told New Age.
Among the 25 murdered by BCL leaders and members over the last 10 years, at least eight were killed in Chattogram University, five in Rajshahi University, three in Bangladesh Agricultural University, three in Sylhet and three in Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University.
Besides committing murders, BCL activists assaulted and injured dozens of teachers, students and journalists at different universities during the period under consideration.
In 2018, BCL activists routinely beat up job quota movement leaders and activists on different campuses, especially at Dhaka University, but the police just looked the other way.
Quota movement leader and now Dhaka University Central Students Union vice-president Nurul Haque Nur said that he was severely beaten up as many as eight times for his role in the movement seeking job quota reformation.
On December, 12, 2009 BCL activists of Jagannath University hacked and beat to death Bishwajit Das, a tailor by profession, on the way to his tailoring shop at Lakshmibazar in Old Dhaka.
A total of 21 BCL members were convicted of murdering Bishwajit. Eight were sentenced to death and 13 life term in prison.
On August, 2017 the High Court upheld the death penalty for two of those eight initially sentenced by a lower court to be hanged to death.
The HC chastised Sutrapur police station’s former sub-inspector Jahedul Haque, saying that he had produced an incomplete investigation report on Bishwajit’s death.
On November 20, 2016 police recovered the body of BCL central committee joint secretary and also former joint secretary of the BCL Chattogram University unit, Diaj Irfan Chowdhury, from his house.
His family members alleged that Diaj was murdered as a sequel to the rivalry among the student organisation’s leaders over a tender of the university.
The Police Bureau of Investigation has been continuing the probe into the cases filed in this connection against 10 BCL activists including its former president Alamgir Tipu.
Including Diaj, eight were killed in Chattogram University at the time, including Mohiuddin Kaiser, Mamun Hossain, Harun-ur-Rashid and Asaduzzaman.
At least five people were killed at Rajshahi University in last 10 years. Most of the killings took place in factional clashes and over turf war.
On August 15, 2010 BCL activist Nasirullah Nasim was killed as he was allegedly pushed down from his dormitory by a rival faction’s members.
A fourth-year sociology student of the university and also a BCL activist, Abdullah Al Hasan Sohel, was shot dead during a clash between BCL groups on July 15, 2012.
On April 4, 2014 BCL Shaheed Sohrawardi Hall committee’s acting general secretary Rustam Ali Akanda was shot dead in his room in a factional clash.
A 10-year-old boy Rabbi was killed on Bangladesh Agriculture University campus in Mymensingh on January 19, 2013 during an episode of a BCL infighting.
BCL activists killed Raisul of Tejgaon Polytechnic College on September 21, 2011 during an internal clash that erupted over a trivial matter at the campus canteen.
A bank official was killed during a Jagannath University BCL factional clash on April 21, 2013 and Fahim Mafuz of Hazi Danesh Engineering University of Dinajpur was murdered in another BCL factional feud on September 9 the same year.
BCL activist Khaled Ahmed Litu was shot dead in a classroom of Beanibazar Government College in Sylhet in July 2017, about an hour after two factions of the student body clashed on the campus over establishing supremacy.
In most of these incidents, no cases were filed. In some instances cases were filed against unidentified people though the perpetrators were exposed by media outlets and witnesses.
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