Zubair killers - pressAround 4:30pm on January 8, 2012, honours final year student Zubair Ahmed of English department was intercepted by two of his batchmates – Khandaker Ashikul Islam and Rashedul Islam Raju – outside the new Arts Faculty building after completing his last written exam.

They took him to a place on the campus where no one could witness the torture they had intended to carry out. On the way to a quiet jungle-like place behind the science workshop, on invitation, several others joined the duo.

They beat him up with steel pipes, iron rods, wood sticks and others apart from giving numerous kicks and punches until Zubair was almost unconscious due to severe bleeding. They crushed his bones, pierced his body and crammed different body parts.

They only stopped when it was dark and the Maghrib azan reached their ears, around 40 minutes after they had started battering the body of Zubair, allegedly as a revenge of his misbehaviour four years back.

The duo who started the barbaric mission, interestingly, called a rickshaw and took Zubair to Mir Mosharrof Hossain Hall, situated near the Dhaka-Aricha highway. As they got an autorickshaw there, the victim was taken to Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar.

They soon fled the scene leaving Zubair at the emergency department and the contact number of one of his friends. After primary treatment, doctors sent him to United Hospital in the capital where Zubair succumbed to his injuries at 5:57am.

This, common but unexpected, storyline has been created based on information found with the Jahangirnagar University authorities, police, confessional statements of two accused in Zubair murder case and some friends of the victim.

The killing spread panic among students and teachers having no affiliation with the ruling Awami League or those in opposition as well as ordinary people who learnt about it through media. Students launched movement demanding punishment of the accused upon arrest; later the teachers joined them.

According to his friends, Zubair had sensed that he could be attacked by the rival group any time during the exams. On that fateful day too, he phoned the authorities to provide him with security.

Zubair had been staying outside the campus, at Savar, since he quit politics a year back following a crackdown against the Chhatra League faction he was loyal to. He did not attend classes regularly; went to the campus to sit for exams only.

According to the confessional statements, the police and the university’s probe body, Zubair was tortured as he, along with some seniors, had assaulted Ashik and Raju when they were first year students.

A case was filed the day Zubair had been killed against three – Ashik, Raju and Khan Mohammad Rois – as their involvement was found in primary investigation by the university authorities.

Based on two more probe reports, the university Syndicate on January 30 expelled seven students for life for their direct involvement in the incident. Six others were suspended for two years. The accused were also declared unwanted on the campus for the same period of time.

All the accused enjoyed bail, granted by the High Court, during the trial proceedings; but only until February 23 last year when the bails of six accused had been cancelled for assaulting two friends of Zubair on the court premises on January 19.

The seven accused now in jail are Nazmus Sakib Tapu, Md Mazharul Islam, Md Mahmudul Hasan Masud, Md Kamruzzaman Shohag, Shafiul Alam Shetu, Abhinandan Kundu Ovi and Md Nazmul Hussain Plabon.

Four accused fled the court on February 23 last year. They are Ashik, Rois, Ishtiaque Mehboob Aroop and Mahabub Akram. Two others – Raju and Md Zahid Hasan – have been absent from their court appearance since January 23 last year.

Akram, who was expelled for life and gave confessional statement before a magistrate on January 13, 2012, said Zahid told him that Zubair had been captured. At the spot, they found Ashik, Raju and Rois beating up Zubair with GI pipes.

“Plabon, Masud and several others were present there while Aroop and Tapu joined in after some time,” Akram said in his statement.

Tapu was expelled for two years. He gave confessional statement on January 13, 2012. “Ashik started beating up Zubair with GI pipes, and then Rashedul followed him.”
He mentioned about Akram, Zahid, Aroop, Ovi and Shetu among others who had tortured Zubair.

Key suspect Rois, now believed to be in Denmark, in an interview via Facebook with the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday, claimed that he had not been present at the scene. Asked why he had fled the court, Rois claimed that he wanted to save his life since the country’s law would not do justice to him.

After the arguments session ended on January 28, the Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal 4 set February 4 for verdict. But the date was rescheduled for tomorrow as the police had not produced the seven accused – now in Dhaka Central Jail – to the court on security grounds.

The court delivered verdict on Sunday sentencing five to death and six to life-term imprisonment while acquitted two others.

This report was written with the help of Md Sanaul Islam Tipu for the Dhaka Tribune.