Road Safety Protest: Bail still eludes 22 students
For the entire two hours in the courtroom, Masad Mortuza Bin Ahad remained silent. Even when the magistrate asked him some questions, he gave only blank looks, as he sat on a chair placed in the dock.
The North South University student, one of the 22 university students arrested over vandalism and attacking policemen during the road safety movement, has been mentally unsound since 2006 and has been undergoing treatment, his lawyer Kamruddin Ahmed told the court, submitting the medical reports and seeking his bail.
“I perused [read], I heard, I reject the bail,” said Keshob Roy Chowdhury, additional chief metropolitan magistrate.
It was the fourth time that Masad, 27, has been denied bail in the case filed with Bhatara Police Station on August 6.
He was arrested at the campus after he came out of the exam hall the same day, his lawyer said.
Yesterday, Masad was taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court around 10:00am. The hearing on his bail petition began at 11:30am.
During the 30-minute proceedings, Kamruddin said his client could not straighten out his arms without difficulty.
He cannot even remain seated or keep standing for long. His illness has hampered his education, taking more time to complete his O-and A-levels than usual. He has been pursuing his graduation at the NSU for seven years since 2011, the lawyer added.
To give the court an idea of his client's condition, Kamruddin asked Masad to stand up, which he did with difficulty. He also could not fully stretch his arms easily.
The nature of his illness is unclear, and the medication he has been on could not be known immediately.
The prosecution argued Masad was involved in vandalism and attacks on the police.
Masad was arrested on August 6 along with dozens of private university students who took to the streets protesting the attacks on road safety demonstrators.
He was first denied bail, along with many others, on August 7 and was placed on a two-day remand. His bail petition was rejected again on August 9 and he was sent to jail. On August 12, Masad and three other students filed bail petitions again, and were rejected again.
On Tuesday, the CMM court fixed yesterday for hearing the bail petition in presence of Masad after his lawyer told the court that his client was “seriously ill”.
Meanwhile, another court again rejected bail petitions of 11 other private university students arrested over violence.
They are Shakhawat Hossain Nijhum, Shihab Shahriar, Saber Ahmed Ullas, Azizul Karim Antar, Rashedul Islam, Md Hasan, Mushfikur Rahman, Redwan Ahmed, Reza Refat Ahmed, Shimanta Sarker and Iftekher Hossain.
At the hearing, Kabir Hossain, a lawyer for East West University student Redwan Ahmed, told the court that his client had an exam on August 6 and he was detained from the corridor soon after finishing his test.
Counsels for the students submitted separate bail petitions, which the prosecution opposed.
Metropolitan Magistrate Laskar Shohel Rana rejected all the petitions.
The 11 are among the 22 students of seven private universities whose bail petitions have been rejected multiple times.
The students had appealed together for bail on August 7 and 9 in vain.
Four of them sought bail again on Sunday, eight others on Monday, and four on Tuesday. Their petitions were turned down every time.
The 22 are from North South University, East West University, Southeast University, Brac University, Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB), International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) and Asian University of Bangladesh.
They were arrested following clashes between students and police aided by alleged ruling party men in Bashundhara Residential and Bhatara areas.
However, police did not arrest any of the thugs who beat up and injured dozens of students and journalists. Some of the fiercest attacks took place on August 4 and 5. Victims and eyewitnesses said the attackers belonged to the Awami League and its affiliated organisations, including Chhatra League.
In many cases, such attacks happened in front of police, as seen in videos and photos published in the media. In other cases, police and the attackers, some wearing helmets and carrying sticks, metal bars and machetes, were seen launching joint attacks on the protesters.
However, since the student protest for road safety began on July 29 bringing Dhaka to a standstill, at least 97 people, mostly students, have been rounded up in 51 cases in the capital alone over similar charges, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday placed quota reform leader Lutfun Nahar Luma on a three-day remand in a case filed on charges of “spreading rumours on social media and instigating violence” during the student movement for safe roads.
Inspector Rafikul Islam of Cyber Crime Unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) produced her before a court with a five-day remand prayer, saying Luma was actively involved in “anti-state” activities.
“She had posted indecent status on her Facebook timeline which can misguide people or it might deteriorate law and order,” Rafikul, also the investigating officer of the case, said in the forwarding letter.
Metropolitan Magistrate Kazi Kamrul granted a three-day remand and ordered the IO to interrogate Luma in presence of female cops.
Luma, a student of Eden College, was picked up from her grandfather's house in Sirajganj in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday. She was shown arrested in a case under the controversial section 57 of the ICT act, filed with Ramna Police Station on August 5.
Two mobile phones were also seized from her possession.
Najmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of the cybercrime monitoring team of the DMP, told The Daily Star that Luma was arrested for "instigating violence during the road safety protest," and not for her role in the quota movement.
RELEASE THEM BEFORE EID
Thirty-seven teachers of eight public university yesterday demanded the release of quota reform and road safety protestors before Eid.
In a statement, they said this type of repression on students was unprecedented.
"The allegations against those who were arrested during quota reform movement were vandalising Dhaka University vice-chancellor's residence and violating the ICT act. But their involvement in the offences has remained unclear. The way the protestors were arrested and placed on remand is a clear violation of Human Rights,” read the statement.
The teachers also said that those who were beaten up by the pro-government student organisation got arrested, but the government did not take any measure against the attackers though their photos were published in newspapers.
The signatories include Prof Gitiara Nasreen, Prof Robaet Ferdous, Prof Fahmidul Haque and Associate Prof Tanjimuddin Khan of Dhaka University, Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University, Prof Hasibur Rahman of Buet, Prof Nasir Ahmed of Jagannath University, Associate Prof Selim Reza Newton of Rajshahi University, Assistant Prof Saima Alam of Chittagong University, Assistant Prof Avinu Kibria Islam of Jessore Science and Technology University and Lecturer Mahbubul Haque Bhuiyan of Comilla University.