'It is now quite possible to gather information on any criminal act as technology has advanced a lot'
Almost over half a century since its inception, Jahangirnahar University (JU) witnessed at least six on-campus and one off-campus murders in connection with politics. But except for Zubair murder case in 2012, the JU authorities appear clueless on what legal recourses followed the other campus killings.
Shockingly, there are no traces of what actions were taken against the 1973 murder of Shah Borhan Uddin Rokon, the first JU student to be killed over political rivalry, off campus.
Only the Zubair murder case has been disposed off, with the High Court sentencing five Chhatra League activists to death.
Through the verdict pronounced on January 24 last year, two accused were handed down life imprisonment, and four others acquitted, who were initially jailed for life by a trial court in 2014.
JU acting proctor ASM Firoz Ul Hasan said he was only aware of the verdict of the Zubair murder case.
When asked about the legal proceedings of rest of the five murders that took place on campus, and the killing of another – Rokon in Narayanganj, he said: “Currently, we do not have any official records on those.
“Lack of information, hindered justice for the rest of the victims,” he observed, adding: “The University could not take any measure specifically for the incidents that took place prior to 2002.”
It is now quite possible to gather information on any criminal act as technology has advanced a lot, the proctor furthered.
Despite repeated attempts for a comment, JU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Farzana Islam could not be reached over the phone.
Prof Shariff Enamul Kabir, who was the VC when the last murder took place on January 8, 2012, was also unavailable for comments.
In 1973, Shah Borhan Uddin Rokon, a left-leaning student leader, was murdered in Narayanganj. He was killed after being elected as the first general secretary of Jahangirnagar University Central Students' Union (Jucsu).
A year later, Rokon’s successor Mojammel Haque was also killed, on campus. The duo were buried beside the Wazed Miah Science Research Centre.
The second campus killing was reported on August 26, 1989 when Chhatra Dal assistant general secretary Habibur Rahman died in a clash with Islami Chhatra Shibir leaders.
But the most fateful incident was the murder of a JU admission-seeker, Qamrul, in 1994 in the hands of Chhatra Dal leaders who mistook him for a Shibir activist.
The same year, JU saw yet another killing. Local Chhatra Dal leader Shawkat Kabir Dipu, a student of English, was killed during a brawl between two groups – one supporting the host communities, and the other backing the outsiders.
Chhatra League leader and economics student Ananda Kumar Ghosh was shot dead on October 18, 1997, making it the fifth murder on campus. According to sources, factional feud led to the killing.
The followers of the then JU unit Chhatra League general secretary Kakon, and those supporting the then president Sheikh Nuruzzaman were involved in the dispute.
The two factions were so notorious that the group led by Kakon was called “Killer Group” and the other was called “Rapist Group” since its leader Nuruzzaman was accused of rape.
In the sixth and last campus killing, on January 8, 2012, Zubair Ahmed, an honours final year student of English, was stabbed to death by members of an opposing faction of Chhatra League over past animosity, and political vengeance.
Of the seven convicts, four are now absconding in Malaysia, while two others are also on the run, but their whereabouts are not confirmed yet. Only one convict is currently serving jail term.
Student leaders frustrated
Sharing their views on the issue, leaders of different student organizations said it was frustrating that killers roam freely, mainly due to a “culture of impunity.”
JU unit Chhatra Union President Nazir Amin Chowdhury Joy said Zubair’s killers were tried following repeated protests demanding justice for him.
“Still, most of the convicts are on the run, posing the risk of such murders being repeated,” he feared, alleging that the university authorities in most cases do not even bother to file a case on any act of crime that takes place on the campus.
Moreover, the JU authority’s allegiance to the ruling party, and also a certain quarter deprives the victims of justice, he said.
JU unit Chhatra Dal General Secretary Abdur Rahim said it is an extreme reality that the ruling party-backed student front always enjoys impunity.
“But we want the culprits to be punished regardless of their political affiliation. We also demand that the university authorities stop serving the interest of the pro-ruling party quarter,” he said.
Md Jewel Rana, JU Chhatra League president, alleged that the university authorities show negligence in filing a case for some reason.
“Every student has the right to have own political views, for which a murder is not justified. Mainly, routine reshuffle in the university administration, and reluctance among the VCs are why the murders get hushed up,” he said.
However, the ruling party’s student wing leader demanded that the authorities ensure justice to the rest of the six victims through speedy tribunals.