The Buet authorities yesterday banned all political activities on the campus and suspended 19 students, mostly leaders of the university’s BCL unit, accused in Abrar Fahad killing case.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Saiful Islam made the announcement amid student protests over the gruesome murder last week.
At a meeting with the agitating students, the VC also said they were working to launch a dedicated website for posting complaints about ragging and other forms of torture on the campus.
Later in the day, the protesters, however, said they will continue demonstrations until all their demands are met.
They also threatened that they will not allow the Buet authorities to hold the admission tests on Monday unless security is ensured for all students on the campus by then.
Meanwhile, detectives arrested two more accused in the case in Sylhet and Satkhira yesterday. With them, 18 people have been held over the murder.
Abrar, a second-year student of Buet’s electrical and electronic engineering department, was beaten to death by a group of Chhatra League leaders at the university’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall between 7:00pm Sunday and 2:30am on Monday.
Doctors said Abrar died from “internal bleeding and excessive pain”.
The incident triggered a firestorm of protests on university campuses across the country. Many took to the social media to demand justice for Abrar.
Law enforcers suspect Abrar was attacked because of one of his recent Facebook posts, which seemed critical of some recent deals with India.
Yesterday’s meeting started at Buet auditorium around 5:30pm. At the beginning, VC Prof Saiful, deans of different faculties and the students observed a minute of silence in Abrar’s memory.
Shortly after that, Prof Saiful started reading out the 10-point demand raised by the agitating students.
On banning organisation-based politics on the campus, he said, “I, with the authority vested in me, announce that all political organisations and their activities are now banned at Buet.”
On the demand for the maximum punishment for Abrar’s killers, he said he already discussed the matter with government high-ups and that they promised all sorts of assistance in this regard.
About the demand for expelling all the murder accused from the university, the VC said they expelled students on many occasions in the past, but the students returned to classes with stay orders from court.
“Based on that experience, we have formed a committee to investigate Abrar murder. We’ve suspended the 19 accused and will take further action based on the probe report. The committee will submit its report within 10 days,” he said.
Reading out the demand for providing compensations to Abrar’s family and helping it run the legal battle, he said the university authorities would extend support to the family.
On stopping ragging on the campus, he said a website would be launched for making complaints. The university’s Directorate of Students’ Welfare (DSW) would directly receive the complaints, he said.
He assured that ragging would stop at Buet.
The VC then said the university authorities would soon install CCTV cameras on both sides of the wings of the dormitories.
Speaking on the other demands, Prof Saiful said they would write to the government so that the trial of the Abrar murder case is held at a speedy trial tribunal.
About the allegation of his failure to take prompt action after the brutal murder, he admitted having some “lackings” on his part. “I had some lackings. As a father figure, I apologise to you,” he said.
Later, the students started asking questions to the VC, the deans and DSW Director Mizanur Rahman about implementation of all the demands.
At that time, the issue of Monday’s entrance exam came for discussion. The DSW director requested the students not to obstruct the tests. Admission Test Committee Chief and Electrical & Electronic Engineering Faculty Dean Pran Kanai Saha made the same request.
The meeting ended at that point and the students went to the university’s Shaheed Minar area, where they held a press briefing. Speaking there, they said their protests would continue until all their demands were met.
Since Abrar was murdered, Buet Alumni Association and Teachers’ Association have been demanding the removal of the VC for his “failure to ensure security” on the campus.
Prof Saiful also faced the protesters’ wrath when he went to the campus about 38 hours after the killing. The demonstrators also besieged his office for over four hours.
On Thursday, the protesters gave him until 2:00pm yesterday to clarifying his stance on the demands.
He called the meeting yesterday to discuss the demands.
FIFTH DAY OF DEMO
Earlier in the morning, the agitating students resumed the demonstration for the fifth straight day. Carrying banners and placards, several hundred Buet students brought out a procession on the campus, demanding justice for Abrar.
They chanted slogans calling for the maximum punishment for the killers.
Talking to reporters around 11:00am, one of the protesters said, “We’ve not seen any visible steps in implementing our demands.”
The agitating students also drew graffiti and performed a street play depicting Abrar murder.
Speaking at the press briefing after the meeting with the VC, Mahmudur Rahman Sayem, a student of the electrical and electronic engineering department, said they believed five of their demands could be implemented in a short time.
He said they will not foil Monday’s exams if the authorities meet the demands immediately.
“We made the decision at the request of the vice chancellor and the examinees,” he said.
The five demands include issuance of notices on expulsion of all the charge-sheeted accused, compensation to Abrar’s family, eviction of outsiders from halls and sealing of offices of all political organisations at the dormitories.
ARRESTEE CONFESSES; TWO MORE HELD
Meftahul Islam Zion, a student of naval architecture and marine engineering, and also sports secretary of the Buet unit, yesterday confessed to his links to Abrar killing, said police.
On Thursday, another accused Ifti Mosharraf Shakal confessed that he along with other Chhatra League leaders had beat up Abrar.
Detectives yesterday arrested two more accused -- Majedul Islam, 21, a student of materials and metallurgical engineering, and Shamim Billah, 20, a student of naval architecture and marine engineering -- in Sylhet and Satkhira.
Meanwhile, arrested Buet BCL leader Amit Saha and Buet student Hossain Mohammad Toha were placed on five-day remand each yesterday in connection with the murder.
A Dhaka court also sent to jail Abrar’s roommate Mizanur Rahman Mizan, who was arrested recently in connection with the murder.