Nine Chhatra League men arrested over the murder inside a dormitory
In a harrowing incident, a second year student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) has been beaten to death allegedly by some Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders and activists inside a dormitory.
He was grilled and beaten by the Chhatra League men for having alleged ties to Islami Chhatra Shibir — an unsubstantiated claim which is yet to be proved.
Nine Chhatra League leaders, including the organization’s Buet unit General Secretary Mehedi Hasan Rasel and Joint Secretary Mustaqim Fuad, were booked several hours after Abrar Fahad was declared dead around 3am on Monday.
Fuad is also a former vice president of Chhatra League’s unit of Sher-e-Bangla Hall, the students’ dormitory where the murder took place sometime between 7:30pm Sunday and 1am Monday.
The other arrestees are Chhatra League Buet unit’s Information and Research Affairs Secretary Anick Sarker; Sports Secretary Meftahul Islam Zion; Organizing Secretary Mehedi Hasan Robin; Publication Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Munna; Deputy Social Service Secretary Ifti Mosharraf Sakal; member Muntasir Al Jemi and mechanical engineering department student Tanveerul Haq Ethan.Chawkbazar police station OC Md Sohrab Hossain said they primarily detained six Chhatra League leaders around 1pm from the campus, and the rest were held in the later hours.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Additional Commissioner Abdul Baten in the afternoon told reporters that they also found that four of them were involved in the murder.
Barkat Ullah, father of deceased Abrar, filed a case against 19 people, including the nine arrestees, later in the evening with Chawkbazar police.
Abrar Fahad, a second year student of Buet’s electrical and electronic engineering, was seen, in CCTV camera footage, being brought to the staircase on the ground floor of Sher-e-Bangla Hall around 1am Monday.
Later, some students took him to the hall canteen where Abrar, who used to stay at the dormitory’s Room No 1011, was pronounced dead around 3am by Buet Medical Officer Dr Md Mashuk Elahi.
Abrar's body was sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) morgue around 6am, said DMP’s Lalbagh Division Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Md Kamal Hossain.
An autopsy, conducted hours after Abrar’s death, confirmed that the Buet student was beaten to death by blunt objects such as cricket stumps or bamboo sticks.
Associate Prof Dr Sohel Mahmud, head of DMCH forensic department, said Abrar died of internal hemorrhage and excessive pain after suffering numerous blows on different parts of his body, which were confirmed by extensive bruises.
DMP Additional Commissioner Krishna Pada Roy earlier said: “We suspect Abrar was beaten to death based on the evidences we have found. The duo [Rasel and Fuad] have been taken into custody for questioning.
“We have begun scrutinizing the CCTV footages and will watch all of them. No one will enjoy impunity regardless of their political affiliation," he told journalists at Buet.
Abrar’s cousin Abu Talha Rasel said a namaz-e-janaza was held at Buet Central Mosque around 9:45pm, before family members started for village home in Kushtia.
He said the family will held a second janaza at Abrar’s home in Kushtia town around 6am Tuesday. A third janaza will be held around 10am at the family’s village home at Kaya union, Kumarkhali upazila, said Talha and Abrar’s uncle Mizanur Rahman.
Murder at Room No 2011
Around 7:30pm on Sunday, some third year students summoned Abrar and several other second year students to Room No 2011 of Sher-e-Bangla Hall, claimed Chhatra League’s Buet unit Assistant Secretary Ashikul Islam Bitu.
He claimed Abrar was grilled after they found his ties to Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, through his activities on Facebook. “We found that he had shown support to many posts by a Facebook page named Basher Kella which is run by Shibir.”
"I left the room later around 8:45pm. I don’t know about any beatings taking place there,” concluded Bitu.
Seeking anonymity, a Chhatra League leader, however, confirmed Dhaka Tribune that Abrar was beaten to death inside that room.
Another Chhatra League leader, asking not to be named, claimed that Anick Sarker and Amit Saha, deputy law affairs secretary of the same unit, had led the attack.
According to him, the others attackers included Sakal and Mujtaba Rafid, the unit’s deputy office secretary. All the attackers are third year students, who hold posts in the Chhatra League unit, and are supporters of Rasel.
The CCTV footage, recorded on a camera on a hall corridor, showed that three youths carrying Abrar from Room No 2011 around 1am Monday, with several others following them.
Abrar’s roommate Saikat told Dhaka Tribune said Abrar and at least six others students went to that room on Sunday evening after they were summoned by the seniors.
Around 1am, the seniors left the room and asked some second year students over the phone to take away Abrar’s body from the scene, Saikat said.
Requesting anonymity, another student, who lives in a room nearby, said he heard someone’s loud screams coming out of Room No 2011. “Afterwards, he [Abrar] was brought out from that room,” he said, adding that police arrived at the crime scene around 5am Monday.
Moreover, when police began examining the CCTV footages around 7am, they found that the camera stopped working around 2:06am. There were no recordings after that.
Facebook posts and Shibir ties
After the news of Abrar’s death spread, a rumour started making rounds that his posts on Facebook had played a role in bring the Chhatra League leaders’ wrath on him.
In his last post shared at 5:32pm on Saturday, Abrar expressed his critical views concerning Bangladesh's agreement with India over several issues, including one that will allow the neighbour country to withdraw water stipulated from Feni River.
In another post published on September 30, Abrar had also criticised Bangladesh's decision to export ilish to India.
But the allegation that caused most outrage among people across the country was that Chhatra League leaders beat Abrar to death because of his ties to Chhatra Shibir.
His cousin Talha, also a staff reporter of Daily Arshinagar, told Dhaka Tribune: “It’s impossible that Abrar had any involvement with Chhatra Shibir.
"Abrar’s father is an NGO employee who worked hard campaigning for Awami League Joint General Secretary and MP Mahbubul Alam Hanif during the last general election.”
Asked about Abrar’s Shibir ties, his uncle Mizanur said: “This is totally false. He was progressive in his thoughts and open-minded. But he had affection to Tabligh. He went on Tablighi tours after his enrolled in Buet.”
Abrar’s mother Rokeya Khatun said: “Our entire family supports Awami League. Then again, why has my son been killed?”
A shell-shocked Rokeya told reporters at their Kushtia home: “I want maximum punishment for the killers of my son.”
Abrar’s father Barkat Ullah, who rushed to Dhaka after receiving the news of his son’s death, also demanded the highest punishment for the murderers as he broke down into tears.
Hours after Abrar’s death, students at different universities around the country demonstrated on Monday demanding justice for him and capital punishment for the killers, while netizens expressed deep anger on social media.protest rallies include Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Sylhet, Khulna University, and Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University in Tangail.The universities where students brought out processions and held
Buet VC absent
Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos, Buet Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Saiful Islam was nowhere to be found.
He did not come to the campus on Monday even after the news of Abrar’s death made headlines on the mass media and sparked protests.
Prof Saiful also declined to comment on the matter when contacted, while his aide told reporters that the VC was feeling sick.
Chhatra League takes action
On Monday afternoon, Chhatra League’s central committee Acting President Al-Nahean Khan Joy said they would take stern action against any leader or activist of the organization if they were found involved in Abrar’s murder.
“We will cooperate with the law enforcement officials to help them expose the truth, despite the fact whether the ruling party’s student wing members are involved or not,” he said.
At the same time, the ruling party student wing also formed a two-member committee to investigate the incident.
Later last night, following its recommendations, Chhatra League top brass expelled 11 of its members permanently from the organisation for their involvement in the murder.
The expelled leaders include eight office bearers and three executive members of the organization’s Buet unit committe.
The office bearers are Rasel, Fuad, Robin, Anick, Zion, Sakal, Rafid and Literature Secretary Moniruzzaman Monir; and the expelled members are Jemi, Mujahidur Rahman, and Ehtemamul Rabbi Tanim.
Abdullah Alif in Dhaka, Aminul Islam Babu at DMCH and Md Kudrote Khoda Shobuj and Al-Mamun Sagor in Kushtia contributed to this report