The students demanded the public appearance and statement from the VC when they began the day’s protest
Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (Buet) Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Saiful Islam was confined to his office on Tuesday by students demanding justice for the slain Abrar Fahad.
The protesting students finally unlocked the office at 9:45pm. The VC earlier attempted to leave at around 9pm, but was forced to go back into the office as students were still protesting and chanting slogans criticizing the Buet authorities’ failure to save a student’s life.
The protesting students expressed outrage as the VC did not show up at the campus until after 5pm, nearly 40 hours after Abrar was first reported dead. The VC did not appear until the protesters demanded that he make a public appearance and statement by 5pm.
The students demanded the public appearance and statement from the VC when they began the day’s protest at 10am. The students also voiced eight-point demands, including exemplary punishment for Abrar’s killers.
When the VC turned up at his office around 5:15pm, the students padlocked the entrance to the building. They also locked the entrances to other academic and administrative buildings.
Subsequently, the VC sat with all dormitory provosts, exam controllers, and the director of student welfare, among other Buet officials.
At around 6:30pm, the VC came out of the office and spoke to the protesters, but returned inside without suggesting a solution. The protesting students locked the entrance again after he re-entered, and staged a sit-in.
The protesters said they would boycot the upcoming Buet entrance examination scheduled for October 14, and called for the suspension of all academic and administrative activities on the campus.
They announced the decision at a press briefing in front of the VC’s office, after Prof Saiful Islam had gone back inside.
The Buet campus erupted into protest on Monday, when student Abrad Fahad was brutally murdered inside Sher-e-Bangla Hall of the university.
What the VC said
Despite failing to give an immediate solution to the demands of the students, the VC claimed that he agreed with them in principle.
The VC said he was working to meet the students’ demands, but he had to work within certain limitations.
“I have spoken with the deputy minister of education. Although I agree with the demands in principle, I do not have the authority to meet all of them,” he said, adding that the Buet authorities would do whatever they can under their jurisdictions.
Addressing the students in front of his office, the VC pledged to expel those accused of killing Abrar.
When the students asked the VC why he did not attend Abrar’s namaz-e-janaza at the campus on Monday night, Prof Saiful did not have an answer.
The VC asked the students to form a team of representatives to sit for talks with him, but the students rejected the proposal.
Earlier in the day, Buet Director of Student Welfare Mizanur Rahman said the VC could not come to the campus due to illness.
"However, he proposed to meet a five-member student representative committee," he said.
The Dhaka Tribune attempted to contact the VC before he arrived at the campus, but his phone was switched off.
‘Buet authorities failed Abrar’
Earlier in the day, Buet Teachers' Association President Dr AKM Masud said Abrar Fahad died due to the university authorities’ failure to protect its students.
Expressing solidarity with the protesting students, he condemned the murder of Abrar by Chhatra League leaders who have now been expelled.
He also criticized Chhatra League, the student wing of ruling Awami League, for allegedly torturing students inside dormitories of the university.
Dr AKM Masud said: “It was the duty of the university authorities to ensure the safety and security of every student on campus, but they have failed to do so.Their inactiveness in stopping the torture and ragging in dormitories in the past led to Abrar’s murder.
“The security system of Buet has collapsed. The university authorities must take responsibility for Abrar’s murder,” he added.
Dr AKM Masud also said: “We urge the authorities concerned and the government to ensure justice.”
He also asked the university authorities to ensure the safety of all students on the campus.
3 more Buet students arrested
Police have arrested three more accused in the Abrar murder case, raising the total number of arrests to 13, so far.
The new arrests are Shamsul Arefin, 21, Moniruzzaman Monir, 21, and Md Akash, 21. All of them are Buet students.
Monir and Akash are third year students of the water resources and civil engineering departments, respectively, while Shamsul Arefin is a second year student of the mechanical engineering department.
Monir and Arefin were arrested from Dhaka, and Akash from Gazipur, according to police sources.
Abrar, a second year student of the Buet electrical and electronic engineering department, was beaten to death inside Sher-e-Bangla hall sometime between 8:30pm on Sunday and 12:30am on Monday.
A number of Chhatra League leaders have been accused of beating him for his alleged involvement with Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Any links between Abrar and Shibir are yet to be proven.
After his third namaz-e-janaza, Abrar was buried at Raidanga graveyard at Koya union of Kumarkhali upazila in Kushtia on Tuesday morning.
A Dhaka court yesterday placed 10 accused in the Abrar murder case on five-day remand each. All of them are Chhatra League leaders.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Shabbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury passed the order.