Can all Phulporis be saved?
The recent incident of brutal torture inflicted on Phulpori, a first-year student of Islamic University in Kushtia, by two leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) and their cohorts at a residential hall of the university has once again exposed the terror tactics that BCL leaders and activists generally use to establish their supremacy on our public university campuses. By now, we all know the details of how Phulpori was tortured for hours and threatened by the female leaders of the IU BCL unit for staying at a residential hall without taking their permission.
Unfortunately, after Phulpori filed a written complaint with the university authorities, it took them a while to take any action in the incident. They only ordered Sanjida and Tabassum, the two accused in the incident, to leave the hall following a High Court directive. But is this enough of a punishment for committing such a heinous crime? While we understand that the university authorities cannot take any action against the accused before their probe committee submits its report, given our past experiences, we cannot be assured that such a committee would form its reports independently and on time – particularly when none other than the BCL is involved.
The courage that young Phulpori showed in the face of opposition from all, including the university administration, should encourage all students to stand united against such atrocious activities of the ill-intentioned groups in all university campuses.
The IU episode has reminded us of the many past incidents where ordinary students were tortured, harassed or even had to die at the hands of BCL cadres at our public universities. The brutal murder of Buet student Abrar Fahad by BCL goons is still fresh in our minds. And, only the other day, we came to know of another incident at Rajshahi University where a male student was mentally and physically tortured by BCL men. Around the same time, we also learned how BCL leaders and activists at Dhaka University are mugging commuters and general students on campus, creating an atmosphere of fear. The ruling party's student wing has literally turned the gono rooms of public universities into torture cells, under the very noses of hall authorities.
However, the news that the university's BCL unit has suspended the two accused members has given us some hope that change is possible, if we all fight together. The courage that young Phulpori showed in the face of opposition from all, including the university administration, should encourage all students to stand united against such atrocious activities of the ill-intentioned groups in all university campuses.
We urge the IU authorities to conduct an impartial probe into the incident and give exemplary punishment to those involved in torturing Phulpori. Until then, they must take responsibility for ensuring her safety and security, and that of her family members, so that they are not harmed in any way by the BCL and their followers.