Sony, Dwip Murder Trials: Neglected, they see no closure
Twenty Buet students were handed death sentence and five others life imprisonment this month for the murder of their fellow student Abrar Fahad inside a university dorm on October 7, 2019.
The exemplary punishment could be meted out mainly because the authorities acted promptly after the killing. Almost all the culprits were arrested immediately and put behind bars. The government appointed a panel of public prosecutors to fight the case in court and the Buet authorities provided Abrar's family with financial backing for the legal battle.
But the families of two other Buet students, Sabekun Nahar Sony and Arif Raihan Dwip, who were killed by their fellow students, did not get such support from anyone -- not from the police or the government or Buet.
In the meantime, their families' wait for closure lingers on.
Two main convicts in the Sony murder are still absconding, more than 19 years after her death, said her father Habibur Rahman. He also accused the then government, the police and the university authorities of siding with the killers and helping them escape.
The lone convict in Dwip murder also remains scot-free.
Sony, a second-year student of chemical engineering department, was killed during a factional clash between two feuding groups of BNP-backed student body Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal in June 2002. The two groups exchanged gunfire on Buet campus and she was caught in the line of fire.
In its verdict in March 2006, the High Court awarded life imprisonment to three absconding convicts. Of them, Mokammel Hayat Khan Muki and Nurul Islam Sagor have still not been arrested. The verdict could not be executed, said Sony's father Habibur Rahman.
Mushfiq Uddin Tagor and four other convicts in the case are in jail now, he said.
Imran Habib Rumon, a former Buet student, said they held a protest in front of the university's MA Rashid Hall demanding Muki's arrest after the killing. "Muki was still inside the dormitory at that time. But the university authorities called in the police to the campus. The law enforcers then charged truncheons on us, instead of arresting the killer."
Many students were suspended for taking part in the demonstrations and the university was closed down for 63 days to quell the protests, he said.
Sony's family also had to fight the case in court on their own.
Dwip was murdered in 2013. The mechanical engineering student and a Chhatra League leader was stabbed in front of his dorm on April 9 that year. He died around three months later at a city hospital.
His family members said they have been denied justice mainly because of police negligence.
The Daily Star obtained a copy of the case's verdict delivered on January 18, 2018. The document shows the lone accused and convict – Mezbah Uddin -- is absconding.
A day after Dwip was attacked, his brother Riaz Morshed filed an attempt to murder case with Chawkbazar Police Station. A week later, police arrested Mezbah, also a Buet student, for his involvement in the attack. After Dwip died, the case was turned into a murder case.
The Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 of Dhaka sentenced Mezbah to five years in prison and slapped a fine of Tk 20,000 on him.
The judge wrote in the verdict that the victim was severely injured by the accused, and it was proved that the victim died due to those severe injuries.
The verdict said the inquest and autopsy of the victim's body should have been conducted for proving the murder charges. But those were not conducted then.
The investigation officer investigated the case carelessly and pressed the charges in the same way with negligence, the judge also wrote in the verdict.
The Daily Star tried to contact Inspector Jasim Uddin Dewan of Detective Branch of police, who investigated the case, several times, but found his phone switched off.
Dwip's father Ali Azam said they would file an appeal against the verdict. However, neither the Buet authorities nor the Chhatra League came to their aid, he said, adding, "They did not even ask us about case updates."
"We want to file an appeal. But we can't do that without government support," he said.
Azam claimed that one militant group was behind the attack on Dwip and that they were passing days in fear fearing about the safety of his other son, who filed the case.
Replying to a query, he said he was not aware of the significance of an autopsy or postmortem report after his son was killed. "Nobody told us that at that time."
He also said some key witnesses – all Buet students – did not show up at court during the case's hearings for their safety.
Meanwhile, locals of Ekhlasnagar union in Chandpur's Matlab upazila told The Daily Star that Mezbah's family no longer lives in their village and they hardly visited the place after the incident.
Matlab (Uttar) Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mohammad Sahjahan Kamal told The Daily Star that they were yet to get any warrant for anyone named Mezbah Uddin.
The Buet authorities provides Abrar's family with Tk 75,000 every month as financial support and have already spent nearly Tk 55 lakh on the legal battle over the murder case, Buet VC Vice-Chancellor Prof Satya Prashad Majumder said at a press conference on December 8.
Replying to a question on that day, he told this daily that the university would help the families of Sony and Dwip with their legal battle if they ask.
"We have a legal office, I told them to look into all other cases and see whether we can do anything," he said.
Talking to these correspondents, several former students said Abrar's case proves that if the authorities stand by the victim's family, it is possible to ensure justice. But they hardly did so in the past.
The Daily Star looked through newspaper reports and books on student movements and found that at least 151 killings have taken place at universities since the country's independence.
The floodgates to the murders opened in 1974 when Dhaka University saw its first student killing after Chhatra League men fired on and killed seven.
Most of the perpetrators were not brought to book.