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Dhaka Tribune

What befell Abrar that night?

Abrar was beaten to death Monday night. Some Chhatra League members have been accused of beating him inside a dormitory in Buet

Update : 09 Oct 2019, 01:32 PM

On October 7, Buet student Abrar Fahad, who was in his second-year of electrical and electronic engineering, was beaten to death by Bangladesh Chhatra League men, who suspected him to have some connection with Islami Chhatra Shibir. 

Before then, he had been followed for a while by 10 of the now-expelled Chhatra League leaders, who are all accused in the murder case, police said. 

Driven by their suspicion, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) unit of the ruling party’s student wing had also been monitoring Abrar’s Facebook activity.

What they found on his Facebook was not pleasant. In a previous post, Abrar had criticized the low quality of the food provided at the cafeterias of Buet dormitories. That post led to an altercation between Abrar and the leaders of Chhatra League’s Buet unit, including its General Secretary Mehedi Hasan Rasel and Joint Secretary Mustaqim Fuad. 

The final nail in the coffin was the status Abrar posted on Facebook on October 5 afternoon, criticizing the recently signed agreements between Bangladesh and India, including the one which allows India to withdraw water from Feni River in Bangladesh.  

Even before his last status, the Chhatra League leaders, under Rasel and Fuad’s leadership, had been looking for Abrar to beat him up, but he was visiting home in Kushtia. 

Buet students staging protest demanding justice for Abrar's murder on October 8, 2019 |Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneThey finally got their chance to teach Abrar a lesson when he returned to his university dormitory, Sher-e-Bangla residential hall, on October 6 afternoon. 

Some 24-25 people were involved in Abrar’s torture and subsequent death. Of them, 19 have been identified and 13 arrested so far. 

From summoning Abrar to Room 2011 of the dormitory, to torturing him, to informing police after he died – everything was supervised by Rasel. The killers even wanted to make Abrar’s body disappear at one point. 

All this information came out during the interrogation of the 10 accused, including Rasel and Fuad, who were placed on a five-day remand by a Dhaka court on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, three more accused in the case were remanded. 

Police remained inactive

Around 1:30am on October 7, Chawkbazar police received information about the attack on Abrar. A police team was dispatched to go to the hall, but Rasel did not allow them to enter the dormitory past the guest room.  

After spending nearly an hour there, the policemen returned to their station, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Ramna division) Kamal Hossain of Dhaka Metropolitan Police confirmed.

Another team of police went to the dormitory later, but by then Abrar had been declared dead by the campus doctor. 

“They [Chhatra League] told us that they had caught a Shibir man, who must be handed over to police,” Chawkbazar police station OC Sohrab Hossain told Bangla Tribune. “But when we went there, we were not allowed to enter the hall.”

Later, the Chhatra League men did not allow police to recover Abrar’s body until the teachers arrived,” the OC added.

Requesting anonymity, a student from the dormitory said Abrar might have survived if police had rescued him on time. 

Former and current students of the Electrical and Electronic (EEE) Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) bring out a silent procession protesting Abrar Fahad's death on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneHow it started

Buet students released a 15-minute video on Tuesday night, which shows Chhatra League leaders walking on the corridors of the hall.

Abrar’s roommate Antim, who described the event inside their room – Room 1011 – said Abrar was asleep when two Chhatra League members, civil engineering student Ehtasamul Rabbi Tanim and mechanical engineering student Muntasir Al Jemy, came to collect him.

They woke Abrar up, and Jemy told him that the seniors had summoned him to Room 2011 with his mobile phone and laptop, Bangla Tribune reported. 

The footage shows several Chhatra League activists, including Tanim, taking Abrar upstairs to Room 2011.

Some of Abrar’s classmates were near Abrar’s room when Jemy and Tanim took him. After they left, his other roommates – Mizan of Batch 16 and Rafi of Batch 17 – came to the room, and Antim left to have coffee.

Buet Teachers' Association President Dr AKM Masud speaking at protest organised by the teacher's association on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneThe nightmare unfolds

Returning to the hall, Antim found their room to be locked, and waited for his roommates. 

“When Mizan and Rafi returned, we went back into our room,” he said.

Around 10pm, Jemy, a Batch 17 student like Abrar, returned to their room and asked for Abrar’s clothes. 

When Abrar’s roommates inquired about him, Jemy said he was fine, and left with a set of Abrar’s clothes. 

“We thought they had been ragging Abrar and would release him soon,” Antim told Bangla Tribune. “When I went downstairs to eat, I saw Tanim, who was looking restless.”

He further said: “Jemy studies with us. We never thought he would be able to kill Abrar.” 

Attempt to brand Abrar as a drug dealer

Requesting anonymity, some students in Sher-e-Bangla hall said Abrar’s killers attempted to cover up the murder by making it look like mob lynching.

They said the Chhatra League men wanted to label Abrar as a drug dealer and planned to tell others that he had been caught and beaten to death by general students inside the campus.

Another Chhatra League member passed on this information to Abrar's batch mates.

Some students then sealed off Abrar’s room, thwarting Chhatra League’s attempt to plant drugs in the room, a student residing on the same floor as Abrar told Bangla Tribune, requesting anonymity. 

Agitated students protesting in front the old academic building of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 Dhaka TribuneHow the news spread

After a study session, Antim went to eat at Titumir hall around 2:20am on October 7. When he returned around 3am, he saw Mizan and Rafi standing beside Abrar’s lifeless body on a mattress near the staircase, crying.

Witnesses said Rasel, along with Chhatra League Buet unit’s Information and Research Secretary Anick Sarkar and Organizing Secretary Mehedi Hasan Robin, was also there.

Some Chhatra League men guarded the hall gate to bar the students from going out to protest.

Later on, Buet residential doctor Mashuk Elahi, recently former Sher-e-Bangla hall provost Dr Md Zafar Iqbal Khan, Assistant Provosts Md Shahinur Rahman and Dr Iftekhar, and Buet Directorate of Students' Welfare (DSW) chief Dr Mizanur Rahman arrived at the scene.

When the Chhatra League leaders tried to convince the teachers that Abrar had died of natural causes, one of the teachers responded: “We know what natural and unnatural deaths look like.”

Mehedi, who was expelled from Chhatra League after Abrar’s death, told Dr Mashuk Elahi: “Let’s send him [Abrar] to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.”

In response, the doctor said: “He died 10-15 minutes ago. What is the point of sending him there now?”

The teachers were not openly talking about the bruises on Abrar’s body – only pointing at them.

Requesting anonymity, another student said: “Students of Batch 17, who live on Abrar’s block, woke up others in different rooms and tried to get together, but no one had the courage to go and stand beside Abrar’s corpse, fearing Chhatra League.”

The Chhatra League men were watching everyone’s movement in the hall, he said. “Chhatra League activists Moaz and Toha told us not to tell their names to the provost.”

Later, teachers along with the students went to Abrar’s room and held a closed-door meeting. 

Rasel forced into the room, triggering an argument with the then provost who asked him to leave.

When he insisted on staying, the students left the room.

Since Abrar’s mobile and laptop were still in Chhatra League’s possession, the students could not inform his family right way.

Afterwards, they collected his younger brother Abrar Faiyaz’s mobile number and informed him.

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