Now Hefajat enters scene
Hefajat-e Islam, a radical Islamist group, yesterday gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the government to try Shyamal Kanti Bhakta for “demeaning religion”, though a government probe body found no evidence that the Narayanganj headmaster had hurt anyone's religious sentiment.
Several hundred activists of the outfit demonstrated in the district headquarters after Juma prayers, apparently in a show of support for local Jatiya Party lawmaker Salim Osman who humiliated the Hindu teacher in public around a week ago over the allegation of making disparaging remarks on religion.
The Hefajat men have threatened to paralyse the country with hartal and blockade if their demand is not met.
The leaders of the group brought the class-X student, who has raised the allegation of demeaning religion against his school's headmaster, to the podium at the protest rally held under the banner of Sarbastorer Musalman O Touhidi Janata in the DIT commercial area.
But in the written complaint to the school committee on May 12, the student didn't bring any such allegation against the headmaster. He just said the teacher had beaten him in class.
Criticising the education and law ministers, the Hefajat leaders demanded cancellation of the education ministry's decision to reinstate Shyamal as the headmaster of Piyar Sattar Latif High School in the Bandar area.
"If Shyamal is not brought under trial within 72 hours, a massive movement will be launched in Narayanganj. There will be shutdowns and blockades. The Dhaka-Chittagong highway will be blocked," said Maulana Abdul Awal, president of Hefajat-e Islam in Narayanganj district.
"We will paralyse the entire country," he said.
Earlier, the Hefajat men had brought out a procession.
Only a couple of days back, several hundred activists of Islamist group Tehrik-e-Khatme Nabuwwat demonstrated in Narayanganj city, demanding capital punishment to the teacher for what they said was making an anti-religion comment.
In support for JP lawmaker Salim, the group demanded trial and punishment of those who are “hatching a conspiracy” against him.
Meanwhile, Shyamal expressed fears that he may come under attack any time.
"Narayanganj is synonymous with Osman family. There is always a feeling of apprehension…" he told this correspondent at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) yesterday.
The teacher said he didn't know whether he would get justice.
With pain all over the body, he is now receiving treatment at the DMCH under police protection. Around 10 policemen of Shahbagh Police Station were on guard at the entrance to the ward.
He was shifted to the DMCH from a Narayanganj hospital around 12:45pm for better treatment.
On May 13, Shyamal was beaten up by a mob over the allegation that he demeaned religion. He was then made to do squats holding his ears in public on Salim's instructions.
The headmaster has refuted the allegation against him all along.
A video clip of the incident went viral on social media, triggering a huge public outcry and a firestorm of protest on Facebook and Twitter.
On Thursday, the education ministry dissolved the school managing committee of Piyar Sattar Latif High School, which had suspended Shyamal. It also reinstated him following recommendations from its probe body.
Asked about it, Shyamal said he was yet to receive any formal notification in this regard.
He, however, thanked the government and others for helping him get back his job.
Earlier, the school committee had sent him a letter, which said he was suspended because “he physically tortured students, took money in the name of appointing teachers, made derogatory comments about Islam, remained absent without leave and used to be late at work”.
JP MEN IRATE
JP Co-chairman GM Quader said the party men are irate over the public humiliation of the Narayanganj headmaster by its lawmaker Salim.
It is unacceptable and the party will not take responsibility for what the MP has done, he said.
"Like all the people across the country, our party men are irate and unhappy over the incident," Quader told private TV channel ATN Bangla yesterday.
"Every person has his own identity… A party cannot take responsibility for all the activities of any of its member," said Quader.
He said they are observing the entire situation closely and will take necessary steps once the government makes clear what had actually happened.
However, the JP leader told The Daily Star on Wednesday that the party would take necessary measures in this regard once the government probe committee submits its report.
But the JP didn't make any move against its lawmaker even after the three-member body submitted its report to the education ministry on Wednesday night.
The committee said the teacher was a victim of injustice. It also termed illegal the school managing committee's decision to suspend him.