Injustice done to him
An education ministry probe committee found no evidence that Shyamal Kanti Bhakta had hurt anyone's religious sentiment though, on this allegation, the Narayanganj headmaster was publicly humiliated on a local lawmaker's instruction.
The three-member committee also termed illegal the decision of the school managing committee to suspend Shyamal as the headmaster of Piyar Sattar Latif High School in Bandar area of Narayanganj.
The ministry reinstated him following the probe body recommendation.
"The school managing committee's decision will not be effective as it was not made following rules. The committee unjustly suspended the headteacher. So he will remain in the position and continue to discharge his duties," said Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid.
"Instance of such humiliation of a teacher will not be found anywhere. We are enraged and we condemn the act. Such an incident can't take place in any civilised country," he said.
A temporary committee headed by the Narayanganj deputy commissioner was formed to run the school, he told reporters at a press briefing at the International Mother Language Institute in the capital.
The probe body headed by Prof Yusuf Ali, director of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, submitted its report Wednesday night.
Shyamal was beaten up and made to do squats holding his ears on Friday over allegations that he demeaned religion.
The teacher denies the allegation.
A video clip of the incident went viral on social media, triggering a firestorm of protests on Facebook and Twitter besides huge public outcry.
The probe report did not mention anything directly on Jatiya Party lawmaker Salim Osman, who in the video, was seen ordering the school teacher to do the squats, as it did not come under its jurisdiction.
However, the committee said injustice was done to the teacher.
Talking to reporters yesterday, Shyamal said the MP also slapped him twice.
On questions about the role of the lawmaker, Nahid said, "We received the probe report last night [Wednesday] and we'll review the report thoroughly."
The investigation body interviewed locals, teachers, education officials, upazila nirbahi officer, officer-in-charge of Bandar Police Station and members of the management committee.
It found a longstanding dispute between the headmaster and the school committee. Financial issue is the main reason behind the feud, it said, suggesting the matter be looked into.
The probe report said the headmaster physically punished a student during class hours on May 8. He later apologised to the student's family.
The family next day lodged a written complaint to the school committee against the teacher. In the complaint, the family did not mention anything about hurting anyone's religious sentiment, said a top official of the ministry, citing the report.
On May 13, a meeting was convened to discuss the utilisation of a development fund of Tk 50 lakh. But instead of discussing this, the issue of “hurting the religious sentiment” was brought up, the report mentioned.
Before the meeting, an announcement was made through loudspeakers of a nearby mosque that Shyamal had made anti-religious comments, and several thousand people gathered on the school premises, said the probe report.
The probe body termed the managing committee incompetent as it did not play its due role.
'THE MP SLAPPED ME TWICE'
"The MP slapped me twice and asked me to do squats holding ears," Shyamal told reporters at a local hospital where he is under treatment.
Narrating the incident, he said he went to the school to attend the meeting, but he found a different situation there.
Some locals beat him up around 10:30am and Salim Osman came to the place in the afternoon.
"I was so weak at that time. The lawmaker entered the room where I was confined to and he slapped me in my face without saying anything."
The MP then took him out of the room and asked him to do squats ten times holding ears. "I was compelled to do so to save my life."
Asked why such an incident happened, Shyamal said some locals were conspiring against him so that he leaves the school.
He added the MP assured him of better treatment abroad if he gives a written statement supporting Salim.
Regarding the MP's claim that Shyamal did the squats on his own, the schoolteacher said that's a blatant lie.
"He [Salim] told this just to save himself," he said, adding, "A lawmaker who can beat up a teacher should be suspended."
Shyamal thanked the education minister for reinstating him.
Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers Association (FBUTA) held human chains at different universities, demanding exemplary punishment of Salim Osman and his men.
At Dhaka University, the teachers demanded Salim's removal as lawmaker.
"We are standing here with immense sadness, anger and shame. An MP enacts law and shows ways to the nation, but there is no need of such a lawmaker who assaults a teacher," said DU Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) Prof Nasrin Ahmed, at the programme in front of Aparajeyo Bangla.
AJM Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan, chairperson of television and film studies department of DU demanded cancellation of Salim Osman's parliament membership.
Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed, president of the FBUTA, called for expelling of Selim Osman also from the Jatiya Party.
Left student bodies Bangladesh Chhatra Federation and a faction of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front brought out processions and held rallies on the DU campus over the same demand.
Prof Muhammed Zafar Iqbal at a human chain held at SUST in Sylhet said, “Because of this incident, we will be viewed as a barbaric nation which doesn't know how to respect teachers. Salim Osman should not be spared for taking the law into his own hands and humiliating a teacher in public.”
Similar protest programmes were also staged at Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh, Rajshahi University, Chittagong University, Jagannath University, Khulna University, Barisal University, Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur, Sylhet Agriculture University, Sylhet Teachers' Training College and Sylhet City College.
Bangladesh Shikkhak Karmachari Oikkya Parishad held a human chain in front of Natore Press Club, demanding punishment to the MP. Teachers of different schools and colleges joined the programme.
Social media users continued campaigning on Facebook and Twitter under hashtags such as #sorrysir, #IamSORRY, #weRSORRYsir and #shyamalk antibhakta.
"The way everyone protested the humiliation of the teacher and stood by him, it proves that the culture of righteousness has not died yet in the country," Nurul Islam Nahid said at the press briefing.
Terming the protests unique, he said, "It proved that we are in favour of justice and also dignity of teachers who are the main elements of building the nation."
Jatiya Party so far remains silent over the much-criticised role of the party lawmaker Salim Osman.
The Daily Star on Wednesday night asked the party's co-chairman GM Quader whether any action would be taken against the controversial lawmaker. He said, "We will give our reaction in this regard once the government probe committee submits its report."
On the same question asked last night after submission of the probe report, Quader did not make any comment on the lawmaker.
"Out the party chairman is sick. Besides, we don't have any hurry. There is no question of doing anything today. This is not our top priority. Whatever we do, it will be after properly thinking over it."