On Thursday, the state prosecutor in the Banshkhali question paper case said all of the accused are involved – even if they were not directly involved in preparing the question paper.
State prosecutor Bikash Ranjan said the comparison between Bangabandhu and a Banshkhali UP chairman in the controversial question paper is very clear from the description of the two, even if their names are not mentioned.
He said: “Even if no names are mentioned, it is clear that the 'chairman from Gandamara' in one of the questions in the paper is actually Gandamara UP chairman Liakat Ali. The other part of the same question mentions 'a war-torn country and formation of Bangladesh'; it is clear that this is referring to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu.”
The comparison was drawn in a half-yearly examination held on July 17 last year. Students of Class IX from 97 high schools in six upazilas of south Chittagong took the examination in a course titled “Bangladesh and Global Studies.”
Drawing the issue of the Banskhali power plant movement and the following atrocities, the question paper said the villagers had become able to turn around under the leadership of a local UP member named “L” like the people of Bangladesh turned around against the Pakistani forces during the Liberation War in 1971.
The students were asked to compare “L” with a leader of Bangladesh.
The question reads: “The setting up of a coal power plant has now rendered a disastrous state of the Gandamara village. The situation has become very devastating. Chairman Mr 'L' is very disheartened to see this. He came to the villagers' rescue. Within a short time, the villagers successfully reformed their state. However, not everyone acknowledges that this was only possible because of Mr 'L.' (C) Which leader of Bangladesh can be compared with Mr 'L'? In the light of the textbook, explain the steps taken by that leader to reform a war-torn country. (D) Evaluate the contribution of the leader in the light of the quote that such a leader is required for the development of any war-torn country.”
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The state prosecutor said: “The president of Banshkhali Teachers’ Association and Headmaster of Nasera Khatun RK Girls High School Taherul Islam and assistant teacher of Bangabandhu High School Dukul Barua were directly involved in the preparation of the question paper. When the teachers' association of the south district asked Taherul to set the question paper, he gave the responsibility to Dukul. Even though the other accused are not directly involved, they have been charged for negligence.”
He said: "The other accused were given different responsibilities at the teachers' association. The question paper was prepared in their absence. Many of them were in charge of monitoring and evaluating it. It went to print only because they gave permission to do so. Moreover, they sent the paper to various schools in the upazila. Thus, they too are involved in the matter whether they have done it willingly or not.”
He added: “The teachers did not perform their duties properly. They made a grave mistake. They were surely negligent. That is why they have been accused in the case. Negligence was also found in the police investigation. The highest punishment for this case is life sentence and the lowest is 14 years in jail with fine.”
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Nurul Absar told the Bangla Tribune: "Even though the names of Bangabandhu and chairman Liakat are not mentioned directly in the question paper, it gives details which indicate that the question is about the two. That is why the person who prepared the question paper can be accused. However, the others cannot be accused directly even if they were negligent towards their responsibilities. As they are not directly involved, police could have excluded their names from the charge sheet. The court could have granted them bail, as they got bail from the High Court before.”
Banskhali police station Officer-in-Charge Alamgir Hossain said: "We arrested Dakul Barua and Taherul Islam on July 19, 2016 after receiving the initial complaint. The deputy commissioner formed a three-member committee led by the head of the ADC (Education). The committee highlighted the involvement of 13 teachers in their report. Afterwards, we sent an application to the home ministry for approval. After we received an affirmation from the ministry, we applied to the court for prosecution. After receiving the court order, a case was filed against them. We submitted the charge sheet in the court on April 12 after we finished our investigation.”
He added: "In our investigation, we found 13 people involved in the matter. Even though Dukul Barua prepared the question paper, the other accused were involved in evaluating and monitoring it. Thus, even if they were not involved in the matter deliberately, they were all negligent.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune