Tk 2 crore is now the talk of Jahangirnagar University.
Teachers and students have been demonstrating since Friday after it was circulated that some BCL leaders allegedly took the money promising not to stand in the way of a Tk 1,445-crore campus development project.
None from the pro-ruling party’s student organisation, the administration or project contractors is willing to speak on the record.
But, on condition of anonymity, at least 10 leaders and activists of JU BCL told The Daily Star that they had got shares from Tk 1 crore handed over to three factions of the student body.
Another Tk 1 crore was allegedly given to central BCL leaders, according to media reports.
The protesters, also angered by felling of trees for the construction project, now demand a judicial probe into the allegations of corruption and irregularities centring the mega project.
Sources say top JU BCL leaders reached an understanding over distribution of Tk 1 crore between them at a meeting allegedly held at the vice chancellor’s residence.
The meeting took place on August 9, when the university was closed, just before the Eid-Ul-Azha, meeting sources confirmed.
The VC trashed the allegation when journalists went to her office on Thursday for comment.
Talking to The Daily Star over the phone on Saturday, the VC admitted that she held a meeting with the BCL leaders, but insisted that the allegation that there was a discussion on money sharing was simply absurd.
“On request from the JU Chhatra League president… that they were having some internal problems …. they came to meet me. But that does not mean there were some other stories,” she said.
“Like every other organisation, they come to me on different occasions. In the last five years, I tried to solve their problems so that no third party was created here.”
She insisted that none from her administration is involved in any money-related matter with BCL.
But multiple sources recounted the meeting in detail.
“The meeting continued for around four and a half hours. Four BCL leaders from its three factions, the VC and her two family members were present there. We bargained on who will get how much money,” a BCL leader, who claims to be present at the meeting, told The Daily Star.
“Finally, it was decided that the president will get Tk 50 lakh, general secretary Tk 25 lakh and a third group will get Tk 25 lakh.”
Of the factions, one is led by JU BCL President Jewel Rana, another by General Secretary SM Abu Sufian Chanchal and the third is led by Joint Secretary Saddam Hossain and Vice President Niamul Hassan Taj.
The conflict among the three BCL factions was evident as they were locked into clashes at least seven times in the last 10 months, leaving over 150 injured.
The groups led by JU president and general secretary are followers of the central BCL president while the third faction is loyal to the central BCL general secretary.
Initially, it was decided that the JU president and general secretary would get fifty-fifty share of the money. But on August 7, the third group held a meeting with BCL General Secretary Golam Rabbani, which changed the equation.
To reach a consensus, the three factions then sat with the VC at her residence on August 9.
The third faction proposed that it will get half of the money as it maintains ties with the central BCL secretary. But the JU BCL president and secretary objected to that.
The matter was “settled” as the VC mediated, meeting insiders said. However, the “truce” lasted for a few days among leaders of three factions and disputes ensued over the share.
Contacted over phone, JU BCL President Jewel Rana admitted he was present at the meeting, but he denied joining any discussion on money sharing.
“The allegation is not true. Did anyone say that we had taken money from them? Did anyone say we had stopped their work? We are helping them so that the work goes on smoothly,” he said.
JU BCL Secretary Sufian could not be reached for comments over the phone despite several attempts. Joint Secretary Saddam and Vice President Niamul also made no comments.
Golam Rabbani, general secretary of central BCL, didn’t respond to phone calls or text messages. BCL President Rezwanul Huq Chowdhury Shovon’s phone was found switched off yesterday.
According to the Planning and Development Office of JU, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved Tk 1,445 crore for “further development of the university” in October last year. In the first phase, the construction of five dormitories involving around Tk 450 crore has recently started.
BCL insiders said the organisation leaders were supposed to get around Tk 6 crore from this project and Tk 1 crore was given to the JU BCL before the Eid-ul-Azha.
And some portions of the Tk 1 crore has already been distributed among JU BCL’s hall unit leaders and activists.
Talking to this newspaper, at least 10 BCL leaders and activists admitted receiving the money.
At six male dormitories, JU BCL president gave Tk 18 lakh to eight leaders to distribute it among activists who are loyal to him, said three BCL men who received and distributed the money.
The general secretary distributed Tk 40,000 for Shaheed Rafiq Jabbar hall, Tk 30,000 for Al-Beruni hall and Tk 30,000 for MMH hall as he “controls” those dormitories, sources said.
Meanwhile, three leaders of the third faction distributed Tk 9 lakh in three halls keeping Tk 3 lakh each for themselves. A few former BCL leaders also received some amounts, according to sources.
The development project stirred controversy from the very beginning with some construction companies alleging that BCL men snatched their tender documents.
Besides, construction companies have primarily marked around 1,132 trees on the green campus to chop those down. Already around 500 trees have been felled, drawing the ire of students and teachers.
“We are surprised to be informed about distribution of the huge amount of money,” said General Secretary of JU Teachers’ Association Prof Sohel Rana.
“We wanted development but we, from the very beginning, have been calling for ensuring proper use of the project fund,” he said, fearing that such distribution of money among BCL leaders and activists may create unrest on the campus.