A total of 19 people gave depositions Monday to a judicial inquiry body set up to look into the allegation of assaults on Narayanganj school teacher Shyamal Kanti Bhakta in May.
A three-member team led by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Hafizur Rahman from Dhaka recorded the testimonies at Piyar Sattar Latif High School in the morning, on the first day of its two-day investigation.
Narayanganj Chief Judicial Magistrate Shahidul Islam was accompanying the team members, said court sources.
The witnesses include Class X student Rifat Hassan of the school, who complained against Shyamal to the school authorities of beating him up and defaming Islam.
On May 13, Shyamal Kanti was beaten up on the school premises by a mob, instigated by some local radical Islamists who gathered people using loudspeakers of several local mosques, claiming that he had defamed Islam.
Later, the teacher was slapped and verbally abused by local Jatiya Party lawmaker AKM Salim Osman, who came to the spot hearing about the incident. Shyamal Kanti was also made to do squats holding his ears upon the order of the MP.
The teacher later told media that he had been made a victim of conspiracy by some teachers and members of the managing committee. Then, a general diary was filed with Bandar police station.
The judicial inquiry was launched upon an order by the High Court as Bandar police filed concluded that no one was responsible for the incident.
The team will record depositions of other witnesses at the Circuit House Tuesday morning.
After the humiliation which created massive outrage across the country, Kanti was undergoing treatment for several days at a hospital in Naraynganj and Dhaka Medical College Hospital. On the other hand, militant groups threatened to kill the teacher and radical Islamist parties organised demonstrations to demand that he be given capital punishment.
Seeking apology, Salim Osman told journalists that he had not anything wrong, and added that he was compelled to do so to save the teacher from a mob.
On May 17, the school’s managing committee sacked the teacher with effect from May 13 showing four reasons, including allegations of physically assaulting students and making disparaging statements against Islam. On the other hand, three cases were filed against him by different people with a Narayanganj court.
Later, Education Ministry dismissed the school’s managing body and reinstated Shyamal Kanti after an investigation found the allegations baseless.
On May 18, a High Court bench issued a suo-moto rule asking why legal proceedings should not be taken against those, including the MP.
The court also ordered Narayanganj district administration to submit a report on what lawful measures had been taken after the incident.
Shyamal Kanti returned to his workplace on July 11, three months after he was sacked by the school’s management committee.
Bandar police in its report on the GD said that lawmaker Salim Osman had no involvement in the incident.
According to the report, Shyamal Kanti told the police that none of them were responsible for the sudden incident which occurred based on a rumour. He had no accusations against anyone and would not file any case over the incident.
The report was submitted to the Narayanganj Magistrate Court on August 3 and the High Court on August 7. Lawyer for the writ petitioner MK Rahman termed the final report of the police unacceptable.