Bail brings relief, joy
The last 14 days had been excruciating for the family members of Shakhawat Hossain Nijhum.
Since the North South University student was detained by police from the campus area in the capital on August 6, his mother Shafaya Begum and elder brother Safayet Hossain from Rangpur did everything they could to get him released.
Staying at a relative's house in the city for the last two weeks, they shuttled from police stations to court to jail. They filed bail petitions for Shakhawat four times only to be rejected.
Finally, their moment of joy came yesterday noon when they heard that Shakhawat got bail in the case filed with Bhatara Police Station over vandalism and attacks on policemen during the road safety movement.
"I can't express in words how happy I am. We have never dealt with police and court. It's a great relief from hassles and mental torment we have been going through," Safayet, who runs a buying house in Rangpur, told this newspaper at Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj.
"When my mother heard the news today, she thanked the Almighty," said Safayet, who completed BBA from the NSU last year.
Shakhawat, a student of second semester at microbiology department, would walk out of the jail today, he added.
Like Shakhawat, 41 other students of different private universities and colleges in the city -- all arrested in a countrywide crackdown in the first week of this month after the road safety movement -- got bail yesterday.
Seven Dhaka courts, including the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, granted their bail petitions.
In their orders, the courts said the students have been behind bars for more than two weeks. Their bail petitions were granted considering the type of the offence and the duration of their detention.
Nine of the students were released yesterday while the rest are to come out of the jail today, said Senior Jail Superintendent Iqbal Kabir Chowdhury.
The nine are Mushfiqur Rahman, Iftekhar Ahmed, Md Hasan, Reza Rifat Akhlakh, Shimanta Sarkar, Iftedar Hossain, Masad Murtaza Bin Ahad, Mehedi Hasan and Farid Hossain.
More than 100 people, mostly students of private universities and colleges, have been rounded up in 53 cases in the capital alone over vandalism and attacks on law enforcers since the student protest for road safety began on July 29, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Of the arrestees, 22 were picked up from their university campuses in the capital on August 6, while the rest were detained from Kotwali, Dhanmondi, Paltan, Shahbagh, Uttara Paschim, Ramna and New Market areas from August 4 to 6.
Yesterday, relatives of the students gathered at the jail gate since morning. They shed tears of joy when they heard that their loved ones were given bail.
The joy of Zarif Hasan seemed boundless when his brother Mehedi Hasan, a student of sixth semester at the NSU, walked out of jail around 7:00pm.
"I'm very happy and feel relieved to have my brother back before the Eid," said Zarif, who runs an online business in the capital.
He said his parents got depressed as his brother was denied bail again and again. His mother fell ill.
The two brothers live in the city's Bashundhara Residential area, while their parents live in Jessore's Abhaynagar.
"We will celebrate the Eid with our parents in our village home," Zarif added.
Mahbubur Rahman, father of East West University student Mushfiqur Rahman, thanked the prime minister and urged the students to stay away from troubles.
"I hope the students will remain busy with their studies," he said while taking his son home from the jail.
Abdul Karim, father of NSU student Azizul Karim Ontor, said his son had been behind bars for the last 13 days. “His sufferings will be meaningful if road safety is ensured.”
Karim said his son couldn't sit for the semester exam as he was in prison.
“My son will have to retake the semester and I'll have to pay Tk 85,000 again for that,” he added.
Talking to reporters, lawyers of the accused said their clients were not involved in violence. And most of the students were picked up from their university campuses after they had appeared in exams or attended classes.
They claimed the charges brought against the students are false, fabricated and concocted. The charges include attacks on police, obstruction of duties of law enforcers, and vandalism.
The prosecution opposed the pleas, saying the students committed the offences they are accused of in the first information reports of the cases.
But the courts turned down the prosecution's pleas and granted them bail.
Over the last few days, various rights groups, socio-cultural and political organisations, and university teachers called for immediate release of the students.
Yesterday, noted jurist Dr Kamal Hossain and Barrister Mainul Hosen appeared before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate AKM Mainuddin Siddiqui and moved the bail petitions of the accused in the cases filed with Badda and Bhatara police stations.
"It was certain that the students would get bail in such cases. I am happy that they finally got bail," Dr Kamal told reporters.