Abrar murder: can the party brush off its responsibilities?

A B M Mahmodul Hasan Shiblee | Published: 00:00, Nov 03,2019

A B M Mahmodul Hasan Shiblee, Bangladesh Chhatra League, Abrar murder, BUET, DU, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, DU seven murder, Sheikh hasina, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,

Following the Abrar murder students drew a number of graffiti on the walls of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology as a form of protest. — Sony Ramany/New Age Photo

In order to solve any problem, one must acknowledge the problem first. Are the top leaders of ruling political party ready to take the responsibility of the violence that their student wings have been perpetrating for decades in order to maintain dominance in public university campuses? Asking this question, A B M Mahmodul Hasan Shiblee also states that as the parties take the credit for the good work of their member, they should take the liability for the bad work too

ENTIRE organisation is not responsible for crimes of a few — following the ruthless murder of Abrar Fahad, this was a common statement we have heard from ruling party leaders. But the fact is all those who have been arrested so far are leaders and activists of the BUET unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League. So how they walk to the path of impunity?

Responsibilities of a person’s actions cannot be exclusively imposed upon a political party that s/he is part of —  the ruling party uses this line in special circumstances, even political parties that are out of power also use this line in certain situations. But what is the reality? To find out the answer, let us go through the current Abrar Fahad murder case.

To begin with, I will focus on the past records of those who killed Abrar Fahad. Checking their records, it shows that none of them were terrorists before coming to the leadership but they did a lot of things after coming under party shadow. For example, one of the accused of the murder of Abrar is Akash, a civil engineering student of BUET. His father is a rickshaw puller. After getting admitted in BUET, this ordinary boy, who was one of the toppers in admission test, became 'Demon Akash' under the shadow of the party. Same things happened to the other killers too. The killers were simple students before having any organisational sponsors and patrons. After becoming a leader, the organisation has served as a shelter for all its activists. If the previous wrongdoings were addressed, then the killing would not have taken place. Hence, the organisation is equally responsible for all these incidents.

Currently, the torture cell in residential halls of public universities is a widely discussed term. The ruling party has approved, directly or indirectly, this ‘Torture Cell’ to establish its domination and now they are denying their responsibility. How is that possible?

Years after years, when muscles were demonstrated in the residential halls of the university campuses, clashes and violence took place frequently and all dissenting voices were harshly treated, the party remained silent. This was because such torture was needed to show their domination in the campuses.

The organisation was not only just silent about the torture cell but also had given a license to commit such crimes to maintain their authoritarian position. Becoming a student leader of the ruling party means having a separate room in residential hall, luxurious life, getting a license to force any general student to attend any kinds of party gathering. And all these activities were always supported by the ruling party. And when things like murder happened, they started to defend themselves through a culture of impunity. Abrar's murder is clearly showing us how liable the party is. What a ridiculous attempt to save the organisation by the party leaders.

As the party takes the credit for the good work of a party member, they should take the liability for the bad work too. Actually the party has to take responsibility, and it will have to.

Can the Awami League leaders deny the historic 7th March speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his role in achieving our independence? Rather, it’s a privilege for all the Awami League activists that they can say for a lifetime — I am an activist of a party whose leader is the father of the nation, whose party leader has declared the independence of  Bangladesh. So, whether it is good or bad, liability has to be taken by the party.

Bangladesh had to witness violence in educational institutes under every ruler. The murder of Rafun Basunia in 1985, Sony murder in BUET in 2002, Abu Bakar in University of Dhaka in 2010, Dip in 2013 and nearly 200 more students were killed in university campuses after liberation war of 1971, but the trial of these murder cases has not been completed yet. Among all these, 80 are in Dhaka University, 30 in Rajshahi University, 29 in Chittagong University and about 10 in Jahangirnagar University.

But the surprising thing is, till now not a single case has seen the face of light. However, the most discussed seven murder case of DU is an exception in this regard. During the rule of the first government after the independence, this unfortunate event took place on April 4, 1974 in Mohsin Hall. The main accused in the killing was Shafiul Alam Pradhan, former general secretary of BCL. Shafiul alam was sentenced to death and other accused got lifetime imprisonment. But Ziaur Rahman came to power and released them illegally.

Along with the change of power, the reign of terror has been continued in our educational institutions. Is it the liability of the ruling student body only? I don’t think so. In this case, the leaders of the political affiliated teachers' organisations are equally responsible. Teachers are involved in politics but that politics is not for the welfare of students or institutions. Rather they are always busy to flatter political leaders for their own interests. They are failing to take effective measures to eradicate violence from education sector. Teachers who are involved in politics have become obedient servants of the ruling political party as well as the ruling student body which is shameful.

When a murder takes place in an educational institution, the dead body becomes an instrument of politics. Each political party wants to exploit students' anger in their favour. For example, during the Sony murder, when the students' anger could not be tamed in any way, the then ruling party affiliated Chhatra Dal leaders and the police launched attacks on the common students together. Again, in the case of Abrar, the whole country has burst into protests. The head of the government was sincere and ordered the administration to arrest the killers as soon as possible. All the culprits were arrested very quickly, but many were doubtful whether the trial will ever take place or not, because there is no record of proper trail in the case of student murders at universities. So the distrust will remain in the public as long as the punishment of the criminals is confirmed.

In order to solve any problem, one must acknowledge the problem first. Are the top leaders of ruling political party ready to take the liability of these activities? During the last ten year tenure of the present government, many torture incidents have ended up to patronisation of the ruling party where perpetrators get impunity.

To solve this problem, the head of government must play a leading role. Until today, no government has called for any strong action against terrorism in the educational institutions. However, after the murder of Abarar Fahad, the response of the current prime minister has raised some sort of hope. She announced anti-terrorist operations in hall campuses immediately.

Abrar murder is an ordeal for Sheikh Hasina. In order to pass the test, she has to eliminate violence from educational institutions as well as ensure maximum punishment for the murderers of Abrar. Now it is a matter of concern, in which way Sheikh Hasina will walk!

A B M Mahmodul Hasan Shiblee is a women’s rights activist

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