Students rally for provost’s removal | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 27, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:30 AM, September 27, 2019

Students rally for provost’s removal

Demos flare up as RU students demand justice for fellow harassed by teacher’s brother; VC assures of action by Sunday

Protesting sexual harassment of a fellow at the house of a female dormitory administrator on Wednesday night, students of Rajshahi University demonstrated on the campus yesterday.

They demanded removal of Dr Bithika Banik, provost of Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Hall, as “her negligence in duty” led to the student being abused by her brother Shyamol Banik.

Students, however, postponed their protest after RU Vice Chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan assured them that Dr Bithika, a teacher of Sanskrit department, will be removed from her administrative post within Sunday.

Mentionable, the victim is a resident student of the same hall.

On Wednesday, the student alleged that she was sexually abused by Shyamol, 45, when she was staying back at Bithika’s house after going there to tutor her seventh-grade daughter in the city’s Dharampur area, said Hafizur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Motihar Police Station.

Police arrested Shyamol after the 20-year-old RU student filed a case against him with the police station, saying that Shyamol forced himself onto her after the provost had to leave the house around 1:30am, answering a call from the dormitory.

To save herself, the girl started shouting and Shyamol ran away from the room. Finding no way to get out of the house, she called her father in Gopalganj. Around 3am, her father called the national helpline 999, added OC Rahman.

Police then contacted RU Proctor Prof Lutfar Rahman, who lives nearby, conducted a raid at Bithika’s house along with him and rescued her.

Yesterday, protesting the incident, several hundred students brought out a procession from the central library at 11am. They also laid siege to the dorm and locked the provost’s office.

An hour later, students took position in front of the administrative building, demanding action against the provost within two hours. The protesters also demanded exemplary punishment for her brother.

Around 1:30pm, the VC, proctor and student adviser went to the area and spoke to them.

The VC told students that their demands were logical and he would seize the hall provost’s administrative power within Sunday.

During the protest, one of the agitators said if the hall provost could not secure a student at her home, how she would protect hundreds of students at the dormitory.

The victim student’s father also joined the demonstration.

Talking to The Daily Star, the father said his daughter often helped Dr Bithika with her academic and other tasks. “Although she helped Dr Bithika in all her needs, she [Bithika] turned her back when my daughter fell victim to her brother,” he said.

“It was police who responded timely and saved my daughter,” he added.

A fellow student said the girl texted him that night for help and he also called 999.

Dr Bithika Banik could not be contacted for comments, despite repeated attempts. The Daily Star found her cell phone switched off all day long, while she remained absent in her department and office at the dorm. 

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