A Dhaka University professor is living his life under a 24-hour police protection, after a Facebook page administered supposedly by militants openly called for his death for asking a female student to remove her veil during a class.
Police in uniform now guard his campus residence while plainclothes cops follow his movement when he comes out of his residence, said the professor.
“Four police personnel are guarding my house since May 2,” the teacher told The Daily Star.
Since the threat, he restricted his movement. Now he goes out of his house only to teach at his department. “I am avoiding all other programmes in and outside the campus as my family members are very worried about my security.”
On April 29, he filed a general diary with the Shahbagh Police Station regarding the death threat and sought police protection.
The Daily Star is not naming the professor and his department for security reasons.
The call for his murder comes amid the spate of targeted attacks that saw secular bloggers, writers and people of different faiths and ideologies killed over the last few years.
Contacted, DU Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said he spoke with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner about the matter and requested him to ensure security of the professor.
“I told him [DMP commissioner] that the persons behind running the Facebook page and calling for his death should be arrested. We have taken the matter seriously.”
It was his colleagues who first alerted him about the threat on his life, a day after he asked a female student in a class on April 26 to show her face during attendance call or while talking with teachers.
The girl refused and the teacher said he could not mark her present on the attendance sheet if he could not see who she was. While one student secretly took footage of the incident, some other students engaged in a debate with the teacher over the issue.
A Facebook group called Salauddiner Ghora (The Horses of Salauddin) used the video to call for the teacher's death.
They posted a photo, phone number and Facebook account of the teacher, calling on anyone brave enough to take down this “un-Islamic” man.
Announcing that the teacher was the next target, the page posted a link explaining how to kill someone silently and two YouTube links that show how to cut with a knife.
Named after the legendary warrior who fought against the Crusaders, the page also hailed those who hacked to death gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend last week. The page, known for spreading hatred and provocation for killings, is now no longer available.
“I didn't ask her [the student] to leave the class or I haven't said anything about religion as propagated in Facebook,” said the professor, adding that the issue was settled later.
“The student in question also met me personally and said sorry for what happened in the class,” he said, adding that someone from behind the classroom took video which was later used for running propaganda against him.
“There was nothing wrong asking the student to show her face while taking attendance. I should know whom I am teaching. I also told her: If you show your face in the identity card, you can as well show it during attendance call or while asking questions.”
He believes Jamaat-Shibir and militants were behind the hate campaign.
The girl in question was surprised that the teacher was threatened with murder over the classroom incident.
“It is totally illogical to see the issue was wrongly interpreted by watching an obscure video footage,” she said in a statement uploaded in the university's Facebook page on April 28.
She said the matter was resolved and hoped everyone would respect the dignity of the teacher and refrain from misinterpreting the incident further.