BCL violence and the VC's 'blessings'
Rival factions of Bangladesh Chhatra League have engaged in at least 20 violent clashes on the Jahangirnagar University campus in the last three years.
One of these factions, the Shamim-Sharif group, operates with the "blessings" of the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Shariff Enamul Kabir. The professor nurtures the core faction of the pro-Awami League student body there, campus sources have alleged.
Teachers, officials and general students say that the central committee of the BCL has no command over its JU unit as the academic himself has been controlling it for the last one and a half years.
However, when asked, Prof Kabir denied the allegation. “I don't patronise any faction. I don't know who are doing what by using the name of the Chhatra League.”
But Shafin Ahmed, president, and Nirjhor Alam Sammo, general secretary of the now-dissolved JU unit of BCL, differ.
They said the VC was indeed patronising all the misdeeds by the BCL men on the campus.
BCL central committee president Badiuzzaman Sohag echoed their views.
“A section of students are engaged in unlawful activities through using the name of the Chhatra League with help from the university administration and law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Sohag maintains there is no BCL unit at the JU at the moment. He also denies having any contact with those doing politics on the campus by capitalising on the BCL's image.
The latest incident of violence happened on Sunday when a group of BCL activists beat up Zubair Ahmed, a fourth year student of the English department, over past rivalry on the campus. Zubair succumbed to his injuries on Monday at a hospital in Dhaka.
Frustrated with the VC's role, the BCL high command vented their concerns before the AL leadership on several occasions. Nothing, however, happened to the VC, who comes from Gopalganj, which is also where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's hails from.
Prof Shariff Enamul Kabir was appointed vice-chancellor of JU in February 2009, a month after the AL-led grand alliance came to power.
At present, BCL activists loyal to the VC control seat distribution, said campus sources, adding the BCL men are also involved in tender manipulation, extortion and mugging.
The BCL men often force students to join their programmes and harass them if they do not follow their orders, a number of teachers said, preferring anonymity.
SM Shamim of the economics department and Sheikh Shariful Islam of the history department, who are loyal to the VC, have been leading BCL politics on the campus since July 2010, teachers said.
The Shamim-Sharif group came to the rescue of the VC on Monday when several hundred students confined him to his office following the death of Zubair.
Around three months before announcing a fresh committee of the BCL at JU, the central executive committee of the student body dissolved its JU unit committee on July 5, 2010, following fierce infighting that left at least 30 BCL men injured. Five of the victims were thrown from the roof of a hall.
The university administration then expelled 23 students, including the president, Shafin Ahmed, and the general secretary, Nirjhor Alam Sammo, of the dissolved unit over their involvement in the clash.
Following the suspension of the Shafin-Sammo committee, the Shamim-Sharif group took control of BCL politics on the campus under the shelter of the university administration, according to BCL sources.
Since then, the Shamim-Sharif group has had a tight grip on BCL politics on the campus.
A number of central leaders of BCL think the announcement of a fresh committee can bring back order in the BCL as well as on the campus.