The problem is that two other violent parties — BNP and Jamaat — think and act the same way!
Two persons among those who attacked Khaleda Zia’s motorcade on April 20 were identified from the photos captured during the incident. They are Al Amin, a member of Tejgaon thana Chhatra League’s executive committee, and Jakir, vice-president of ward 26 Chhatra League.
Confessing his involvement in the attack, Al Amin told the Bangla Tribune over phone: “I went there for shopping. I got hurt when a brick was hurled at my hand and then I protested.” When asked about the reason for launching the attack, Al Amin replied that everyone knows the reason.
However, on July 10, 1991, Hasina at a meeting with then US ambassador in Dhaka William Bryant Milam said she would support the BNP government in a general agreement to back away from student politicisation and on disarming the campus. “The Awami League can no longer afford to supply its students with arms.”
Milam said he had asked Hasina about the student violence at the university. “I indicated that in my view this issue had to be resolved quickly if it was not to spread and worsen. I went on to suggest that all parties would have to agree to refrain from backing their students in these universities power struggles, and indicate to their student factions that they would not support the use of arms or violence on the campus.”
Hasina replied that it is up to the government to stop violence on the campus. She blamed the prime minister for continuing to allow student violence to occur.
“She said that if the government cracked down, the situation could be rectified in 30 minutes. These students only have weapons she said because the government looks the other way.”
April 5, 2009:
In the wake of violence perpetrated by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists, Syed Ashraful Islam after a meeting said party chief Sheikh Hasina had withdrawn herself as the organisational chief of BCL.
The prime minister also ordered the law enforcers to take legal action if anyone committed a crime!
She has issued such threats several times later, but to no avail.
April 10, 2009:
Alauddin Ahmed, then an adviser to the prime minister, said the hooligans creating chaotic situation within Chhatra League were infiltrators.
He said genuine Chhatra League leaders and activists were the followers of the philosophy of the Liberation War.
He warned that the current BCL men should think about their seniors before creating a chaos, as the seniors have to face criticisms from Sheikh Hasina.
“Give us some time, we will consider your demands and give you jobs. We are giving preference to the honest and familiar supporters in the administration by turn. Those who were ignored or cheated in the past will be rewarded now as we have won a landslide victory in the parliamentary election.”
Chhatra League’s organisational structure is in terrible disorder as the central committee as well as most of the district committees expired last year, with no sign of fresh councils, according to a report by Ahmed Zayeef.
Many Chhatra League leaders have government jobs but are still holding their organisational positions, violating the charter.
It ran out in July last year and a new committee should have been formed through a council before that but no council has been held as yet, much to the frustration of the leaders who aspire to lead the organisation in the future.
The current committee was also supposed to form 101 local committees in districts before becoming expired. But in the past three years, only 54 committees were formed, 17 of which have already run out.
The organisation’s charter says nobody above the age of 29 can become a member of the central committee. The fact that a council is not on the cards worries leaders who are nearing the age limit.
Apart from the anomalies, members of the ruling party’s student wing have also drawn criticism for their alleged involvement in acts like extortion, mugging and taking money in the name of securing admission to different educational institutions.
Chhatra League activists hardly follow the organisation’s charter, which makes it mandatory for the primary members to renew their membership at the end of every academic session. But the requirement has not been fulfilled in the recent years.
The charter also says the central executive committee should hold a meeting in every two months, but only two meetings were arranged by the present committee before it expired.
Some Dhaka University students have since long been engaged in snatching valuables from people at different spots on the campus. Law enforcers say most of the perpetrators belong to Bangladesh Chhatra League, the ruling party’s student wing, another report says.
Such incidents have been on the rise for the past few months reportedly due to negligence of the Chhatra League central committee, university authorities and the police.
General students, teachers and outsiders are targets of these groups.
Although the university authorities and law enforcers have assured stern action after every occurrence, no measures have actually been taken in most cases, victims allege.
The involvement of Chhatra League leaders and activists is confirmed by sources in the police, NSI, DGFI, general students and several leaders of Chhatra League’s DU unit.
The accused groups are led by Chhatra League leaders mainly from Salimullah Muslim (SM), FH, Zahurul Haq and Surya Sen Halls.
Identities of the prominent gang leaders have also been an open secret on the campus. Mahbubul Islam Apon and Ahmed Tahsan, organising secretaries of the SM Hall unit, Aman, joint secretary, and another Chhatra League leader Nazmul Karim Shuvo have frequently been mugging on the campus.
All of them are followers of Chhatra League SM Hall unit President Mehedi Hasan and General Secretary Didarul Islam.
Chhatra League General Secretary Siddique Nazmul Alam is known by the name Debu to neighbours. He comes from a lower middle-class family in Pathalia in Jamalpur, says a report.
Chhatra League president gets rich overnight after rising through the ranks, according to a special report.
Violent clashes and attacks over political interests at Dhaka University, widely regarded as the country’s premier higher education institute, have risen at an alarming rate since 1971 – resulting in the deaths of at least 60 students.
No one has ever been punished for the murders committed on the campus. Only one case – filed over seven murders in 1974 – saw a trial and verdict; the sentences were later scrapped.
A Dhaka court on December 18, 2014 ordered the death of eight leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League for beating and hacking Bishwajit Das, a tailor, to death in broad daylight a year ago.
Thirteen others of the ruling party’s student wing unit at Jagannath University were sentenced to life for the sensational murder that shook the whole nation. The justice seekers condemned the incident vehemently after footages and photos of the brutality of December 9 last year in Old Dhaka were publicised widely in the media.
Judge ABM Nizamul Haque of Speedy Trial Tribunal 4 pronounced the judgement in a crowded courtroom around 12:25pm. He also issued warrants for the arrest of 13 fugitives, saying the verdict would be executed after their arrests or when they surrendered.
Six of the eight detainees and two among the 13 absconders were given death sentence.
13 out of the 21 convicts – all activists of Jagannath University unit Chhatra League – are active on Facebook and in party forums.
The court warned the politicians and asked them to maintain restraint and stop violence in name of political movement.
The judge made the remark in the verdict’s observation. He said if political shutdown, blockade and procession continued and took the path of violence, “then in future we will have to see many more killings like that of Bishwajit, which is not expected by the peaceful people of the country.”
With a view to sustain rule of law and democracy, all political parties including the ruling and the opposition while enforcing hartal or blockade should ensure that the people’s lives and property were not affected, said the judge.
The judge also lambasted the defence counsels for trying to hide the main perpetrators through tricks. The lawyers had placed irrelevant and illogical information, which were full of falsity, said the court.
“The court officers [lawyers] should do their duties with a responsible and helping mentality and not by insulting the truth.” The judge observed that the killers must be punished regardless their political affiliation, class or status. Judge Nizamul said: “This is not just another killing rather it is exceptional and sensitive from different aspects. It did not happen in a dark night or secretly; Bishwajit Das was hit hard by the accused with knives, machete, rod and sticks in broad daylight.
“The death of an innocent person and unnecessary bloodshed cannot be accepted from any perspective – either humanity or ethics.” Even though media footage and photographs suggest that the law enforcers deployed in the area were inactive at the time of attack, the court did not say anything on the issue.
On February 8 this year, another court handed down the death penalty for five expelled activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Jahangirnagar University unit and awarded six life imprisonment for the killing, three years ago, of batch mate Zubair Ahmed, an honours final year student of the English department.
Condemning the current trend of student politics, the judge suggested that proper guidelines be formulated to evade murders, violence and other unethical acts at the public universities.
Judge Nizamul expressed frustration over the current political situation at the public universities. He suggested that guidelines be formulated for student politics in order to stop the recurrence of violent acts.
“The investigation officer has unearthed the current trend of student politics which is highly chaotic, and that lacks ideals and values,” the court said, adding that the practice of muscle politics hampers the establishment of a congenial environment for academic activities.
Mentioning that Ashik, Raju and Zubair had switched party with the change in power in 2009, the judge said: “This trend [of switching organisation] has divided the ruling party’s student front; it also encourages unethical activities including factional clashes, torture of members of rival student organisations, extortion, tender manipulation, physical and mental torture [ragging] of students, sexual harassment, misconduct with teachers, violating rules of universities and cheating in exams.”
The court also said the situation could not be contained properly even by the universities’ highest policy-making body, the Syndicate.
“The killing of Zubair is the extreme result of the continuation of such unethical activities. Such unnecessary murder questions humanity and morals over and over again.”
The judge said the impunity enjoyed by criminals for murders and violence in recent years had inspired such acts in the public universities significantly. “These acts frighten the students and their parents while creating a negative impression about student politics,” Judge Nizamul added.
Speaking at Dhaka University’s 49th convocation, President Abdul Hamid on January 13 urged all to make student politics people-centric and ideology-based for the greater interest of the nation.
“Student politics in the 60s was based on ideology and that ideology was to work for the welfare of the country and the people but today’s student politics lacks such ideology and to some extent that hurts me,” he said.
Recalling the glorious past of DU, President Hamid said the university nurtured many renowned politicians who had contributed to the country’s independence and national development.
For the last couple of years, many Chhatra League leaders and activists have been found involved in incidents of rape and sexual harassment. The latest was on April 14, 2015 at Dhaka University, Jagannath University and Jahangirnagar University.
Culture of impunity for supporters when a party is in power has to be stopped to revitalise rule of law, in line with the constitution.
At DU, sexual harassment by teachers, students and outsiders linked to the ruling party goes unpunished.