An outcry has sparked over the participation of a teacher, who is a member of a university-authorised body probing May 27 vandalism, in a silent procession on Monday demanding punishment of the students who were allegedly involved in the incident.
At least 10 people, including students, a JU official and two journalists, were injured on May 27 when police and Bangladesh Chhatra Leauge JU unit activists dispersed demonstrators, who have been demanding road safety and compensation for two university students’ family, following their deaths on Dhaka-Aricha highway.
The university registrar filed a vandalism case with Ashulia police station on the same day, accusing 56 students. Forty-two general students were detained on the day. The detainees, however, were released on bail on the following day.
On May 28, the university authorities formed a six-member probe committee headed by Prof Asit Baran Pal to investigate the incident, specifically ransacking the VC’s residence and assaulting two teachers.
Department of Anthropology’s Prof Rasheda Akhter, the participating teacher in the silent procession, was also included in the committee. She has well-known ties with the ruling party, according to sources.
Defending her move, Prof Rasheda Akhter said she was a teacher at the first place and then a member of the probe committee.
“I have a political identity at the university and I got the right to express that identity. I don’t see any ground for criticism in this regard and the investigation is not going to be affected by my political affiliation anyway.”
General teachers and students have raised question about the transparency and accountability of the probe committee following the incident.
Department of Philosophy’s Associate Professor and spokesman of Teacher-Student Oikyomoncho, Rayhan Rain said: “It is, indeed, a contradictory stance. The person who was supposed to judge the matter is demanding punishment of the students herself.”
“Neutral investigation cannot be expected from her,” the teacher added
While talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh Chhatra Union JU unit Organising Secretary Ariful Islam Anik said: “It is a clear indication of prejudice of one’s character when a member of probe committee demands punishment of the students.”
The banner controversy
Meanwhile, the procession under the banner titled Bangabandhur Adarsha o Muktijuddher Chetonay Bishwashi Progotishil Shikkhak Samaj
(Progressive Teachers’ Unity Inspired by Bangabadhu’s Ideal and Conscience of Liberation War) earned a widespread criticism from pro-Awami League teachers and Bangladesh Chhatra League men in the campus as the image of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was printed at the bottom of the banner.
Pro vice-chancellor of the university Prof Md Amir Hossain expressed grief over such an untoward incident and termed it as a format error.
His facebook post regarding the incident read: “Bangabandhur Adarsha o Muktijuddher Chetonay Bishwashi Progotishil Shikkhak Samaj
brought out a silent procession in Jahangirnagar University today (Monday). Image of Bangabandhu was mistakenly printed at the bottom of the banner used during the procession. Some of his follower might get hurt due to this reason. We are sorry for this untoward mistake.”