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Authorities draw ire after blocking Buet webpage containing reports of abuse

  • Published at 02:48 am October 11th, 2019
Buet Protest
File photo: Buet students staging protest demanding justice for Abrar's murder on October 8, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

According to sources, BTRC blocked the page after CSE department itself decided to block the page

Authorities concerned are facing anger from various quarters after an online sub-domain page, where former and current Buet students had anonymously submitted over 150 complaints, was blocked on Wednesday night.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Wednesday asked all the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators and internet service providers (ISP) of the country to block the webpage from their networks at earliest time.

The email was signed by Engineer Md Asif Wahed, senior assistant director of Systems and Services Division at the telecom regulator. No reason for the decision, however, was given.

The sub-domain page was opened under the website of Buet’s computer science and engineering (CSE) department in November 2016 as part of a research, on online-based anonymous reporting system, conducted by then five students.

According to sources, BTRC blocked the page after CSE department itself decided to block the page.w

When contacted, the department’s Head Dr Md Mostofa Akbar claimed he did not know anything about blocking the webpage.

“Law enforcement agencies and BTRC know why they blocked the page. We will, however, follow the instructions of the government and law enforcement agencies over the issue,” he added.

Many Buet students, talking to Dhaka Tribune on Thursday, expressed anger over the authorities’ decision to close the webpage, which recorded a surge of fresh complaints after EEE student Abrar Fahad was murdered on campus.

Reached for comment, BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque only said: “The webpage was blocked as per the authorities’ decision.”

Until last Sunday, before Abrar was beaten to death by Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders inside Buet’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall early Monday, there were around 105 complaints regarding academic issues recorded on the page.

Before it was blocked on Wednesday night, however, the number of complaints anonymously submitted by current and former students of the university — mostly regarding violence and abuse by Chhatra League men and senior students on campus — had gone up to 177.

CSE department’s Associate Prof ABM Alim Al Islam, who oversaw the research team that created the anonymous reporting system in 2016, claimed a meeting of the department around 9pm on Wednesday had decided to block the webpage.

“The webpage has been blocked following an official decision,” he added. 

Alim declined to share the reasons behind the decision, saying he was not authorized to disclose the matter without the department’s permission.

Meanwhile, Buet students on Thursday opened another webpage under gitreports.com to submit their complaints regarding violence and abuse on campus as well as academic issues.