The gruesome murder of Buet student Abrar Fahad has touched off widespread outrage with students of different public universities taking to the streets demanding punishment to the killers.
Several hundred Buet students came out of dormitories and gathered in front of the university’s central cafeteria around 10:00am yesterday, a public holiday, to press home their eight-point demand.
Their demands include capital punishment to the killers, expulsion of all the accused from the university, and a ban on organisation-based politics on the campus.
Abrar, a second-year student of electrical and electronic engineering department of Buet, was brutally beaten to death allegedly by some Chhatra League men at a university dormitory between 7:30pm Sunday and 2:30am Monday.
Yesterday, Buet students protested the “silence” of the vice chancellor and his administration over the Abrar murder.
VC Saiful Islam neither came to the campus nor gave any statement after the murder.
He finally showed up on the campus to hold an urgent meeting with the hall provosts around 4:30pm yesterday, around 38 hours after the killing.
Learning about the VC’s arrival, several hundred students besieged his office around 5:00pm. He came out of the office an hour later, and assured the agitating students that their demands would be met.
“I, in principle, support your [students] demands and assure you that I will meet those,” said Prof Saiful.
The students then hurled a volley of questions at the VC but he didn’t respond to any of those.
Saiful said he would have to talk to government high-ups to find a solution to the crisis.
“I can’t do anything alone… I need to discuss the issue with government high-ups. We have formed a probe committee, which is now working.
“It is a murder case and we all have to be patient. I will try to meet your demands,” the VC told the agitating students.
The students, however, were not satisfied with his assurance and refused to let him leave the office. The VC then went inside. He was allowed to leave his office around 9:30pm.
Before his departure, the VC told reporters that they agreed to meet the eight-point demand put forward by the students. But it would be implemented in phases.
The administration is also considering a ban on organisation-based politics on BUET campus, he added.
The agitating students, however, said they would continue their protest and brief the media today about their next course of action.
Their demands include expulsion of all the identified killers from Buet for life within 72 hours, trial of the Abrar murder case at a speedy tribunal, and expulsion of those involved in ragging students at Buet dormitories.
The other demands are withdrawal of Sher-e-Bangla Hall Provost Muhammad Zafar Iqbal Khan for his failure to protect students, compensation to Abrar’s family and bearing their expenses for running legal battle in the murder case.
The students also threatened to foil the Buet admission test scheduled for October 14 if their demands were not met.
Earlier in the day, several thousand students from Dhaka University brought out a procession from the TSC, demanding justice for Abrar. It marched through the Buet campus.
Besides, students staged demonstrations at Jahangirnagar University and Rajshahi University.
Meanwhile, three more Buet students were arrested from different parts of the capital in the Abrar murder case. Two of them are accused in the murder case while the other is a suspect.
They are Moniruzzaman Monir, student of water resources engineering; Md Akash, student of computer science and engineering; and Shamsul Arefin Rafat, student of mechanical engineering.
Monir is library affairs secretary of the BCL Buet unit. It could not be confirmed whether the other two have any political affiliation.
So far, police have arrested 12 out of the 19 accused in the case. A Dhaka court yesterday granted a five-day remand for each of the 10 accused who were arrested on Monday.
The murder case was transferred to the Detective Branch of the police yesterday.
‘BUET AUTHORITIES FAILED’
Buet Teachers’ Association President Dr AKM Masud said Abrar died because of the university authorities’ failure to protect students.
Masud went to the Buet campus around 12:30pm and expressed solidarity with the agitating students.
“It is the duty of the university authorities to ensure safety and security of every resident student on the campus, but they have failed to do so,” he said.
“Their inactiveness in stopping torture and ragging at the dormitories in the past led to Abrar’s murder. The security system of Buet has collapsed. The university authorities must take the responsibility for the murder,” he added.
Earlier around 11:00am, Mizanur Rahman, head of the Directorate of Buet Students’ Welfare, went to the campus to talk to the agitating students.
In the face of repeated questions about the role of the authorities in ensuring security of students, he said, “In principle, I agree to all your demands but I don’t have the capacity to fulfil those….”
NUMEROUS INJURY MARKS
There were numerous injury marks on Abrar’s hands, legs and back, according to the physician who conducted autopsy on his body.
“The tissues in many parts of his body were severely damaged. He died due to internal haemorrhage, blood clotting and obstruction to blood circulation,” Sohel Mahmud, head of the forensic medicine department at Dhaka Medical College, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Abrar was buried at his family graveyard at Raidanga village in Kushtia’s Kumarkhali upazila around 10:00am after his third namaz-e-janaza.
After the burial, locals staged protests with placards, demanding exemplary punishment to the killers.