Gopalganj Science and Technology University: No progress in ACC enquiry against ex-VC | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:29 AM, November 29, 2020

Gopalganj Science and Technology University: No progress in ACC enquiry against ex-VC

Over a year ago, a wave of protests swept Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU) in Gopalganj with the students taking to the streets over allegations of corruption and abuse of power against their vice-chancellor.

The protest and fast-unto-death programmes triggered a huge outcry and led to the resignation of Khondoker Md Nasiruddin from his post in mid-September, prompting the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to launch an enquiry into his corruption allegations.

But the promptness of the country's anti-graft watchdog apparently died down as it could not complete the enquiry in last one year. 

Meanwhile, Nasiruddin is back at his old workstation at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), and now giving classes at the Department of Biotechnology.

"It shows if you have power, you can get away with even after indulging in corruption. It is as if withdrawal from the VC's post is only punishment for corruption," said Fatema-Tuz-Zinia, a third year student of the university, who faced wrath from the VC for a Facebook post.

A BSMRSTU teacher, wishing anonymity, said, "If Nasiruddin goes unpunished, many others will be encouraged to commit corruption."

ACC ENQUIRY HITS A SNAG

On November 5 last year, ACC appointed its Director Sheikh Md Fanafillah to enquire into allegation of bribe, corruption and anomalies in procurement, admission and recruitment against Nasiruddin.

It also appointed Director General (special investigation) Sayeed Mahbub Khan to supervise the enquiry.

Fanafillah went to BSMRSTU to collect evidence and record statement of officers.

"He [Fanafillah] quizzed us on various issues. We provided him with documents of procurement anomalies," said an administrative officer of the university. "And that's all. Till now we don't know what had happened," he told The Daily Star recently.

This correspondent called up Fanafillah for his comment but he did not pick his phone.

Asked, ACC DG Mahbub said the enquiry officer went to visit the university once. "For the sake of enquiry, he needs to make field visit once again. But due to coronavirus, he could not go there," he said.

Replying to a question, he said, "Yes, it has been delayed. Hopefully we'll be able to complete the enquiry soon."

According to section 7 of ACC Rules 2007 (amended), an enquiry officer is bound to complete enquiry within 45 working days. For the failure, he may seek another 30 working days from the respective DG and commissioner.

Even after that, if the enquiry does not complete on time, the matter should be raised before the Commission which will either extend time or appoint another enquiry officer.

"If the enquiry officer fails to complete enquiry on time without appropriate reasons or refrain from applying for time extension as per rules, the Commission can initiate departmental proceedings against the officer as well as his supervisor for their incompetence," reads the rules.

The Daily Star tried to reach ACC Commissioner Dr Md Mozammel Haque Khan, who looks after investigation, last week in this regard. He asked to send questions in text messages.

This correspondent then send him the queries; one of the questions was whether the failure falls upon the commissioner.

He did not respond even after a reminder. 

ALLEGATIONS, UGC FINDINGS

Nasiruddin, who was appointed BSMRSTU VC in 2015, was involved in corruption in development projects including construction of Shaheed Minar and Bangabandhu's mural on the campus, according to students and teachers of the university.

There were allegations that during his tenure, the university authorities used to suspend students and serve show-cause notices to those teachers who spoke against the VC and his accomplices.

Students began protesting at BSMRSTU following suspension of Fatema-Tuz-Zinia in September and later it turned into a collective protest of students and teachers who sought removal of Nasiruddin.

As the protests continued, many more corruption allegations began to surface against him.

There was allegation against Nasiruddin of flouting procurement rules and handing over a Tk 28 crore job to a shipyard to make wooden bench and supply books.

He made his nephew, who joined as a section officer, chairman of international relations department of the university.

During his tenure, a chairman of a department recommended himself for his enrolment in a master's course at that very department and eventually obtained the degree.

There were several other anomalies that took place during Nasiruddin's tenure.

In the face of students' protest, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on September 23 formed a probe committee. The committee visited the campus, interviewed students, Nasiruddin and collected documents.

Later, it recommended taking legal action against Nasiruddin for his involvement in irregularities and corruption in student admission, appointment of teachers and procurement.

The probe committee found that the VC was running the university at will.

Despite repeated attempts, this correspondent could not reach Nasiruddin for his comments as his phone was found switched off.

Contacted, Dr Sabina Yasmin, head of biotechnology department at BAU where Nasiruddin is currently posted, said he has been giving regular online classes.

"Things are going okay here," she said without elaborating further.

On November 18 at a virtual meeting, ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood asked   his officials to complete enquiry within the stipulated time.

"Making   delay in enquiry on the excuse of more query is a kind of harassment,"   said the chairman, expressing frustration over the pending enquiry and   investigations.

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