Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) Central Executive Committee has expelled at least 350 leaders and activists for their alleged involvement with serious crimes such as rape, assault on women, extortion, murder and abduction.
According to insiders from the Awami League’s student wing, the central committee alone has expelled at least 350 leaders and activists, while local committees also expelled a significant number of party members for suspected involvement in illegal activities.
Chhatra League President Saifur Rahman Sohag, General Secretary SM Zakir Hossain and Office Secretary Delwar Hossain Shahzada made the decision to expel these leaders and activists during the period from July 26, 2015 to December, 2017.
Among them, 113 were expelled for facing rape charges, 53 were expelled over internal disputes, 23 for attacking students, 17 for peddling drugs, 16 for extortion, 14 for cheating in examinations, 12 for attacking journalists, 11 for misconduct with teachers, nine for extorting job seekers, seven for assaulting law enforcers, seven for defamatory comments on Facebook, four for molesting children, and 60 for various other reasons.
The central committee also suspended committees in at least at six universities and eight districts during that two and a half year period.
However, sources from the Chhatra League central committee claimed that the party takes action against leaders and activists for anti-organisational and undesirable activities.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Shahzada acknowledged that all these leaders and activists were suspended for violating rules and regulations of the organisation.
In Bhola, Bangladesh Chhatra League’s district unit General Secretary Riaz Mahmud allegedly raped a ninth-grader in 2017, after promising to marry her.
On August 26, the victim’s family at a press conference had demanded justice from Awami League Presidium Member Tofail Ahmed, who is the Bhola-1 lawmaker, when Riaz rejected the marriage proposal.
On December 28, Arif Hossain Hawlader, general secretary of Narayanpur union unit of Bhedarganj upazila of Shariatpur, was suspended after allegedly raping six women.
On August 20, Sirajganj district BCL leader Riad Hossain was suspended on charges of sexually assaulting an eighth grader in Belkuchi upazila.
These are but a few incidents among many others.
Addressing the matter, Bangladesh Chhatra League General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain said: “So far, the organization has suspended every leader and activist accused of raping or assaulting women or minor girls.
“When someone commits a crime such as rape, it is their personal problem. As a students’ organisation, we will never allow such people to be a part us. Chhatra League leaders and activists have been strictly instructed not to get involved in such incidents, which would tarnish our image.”
Echoing the opinion, President Saifur Rahman Sohag said: “Criminals do not belong to a party or have political identities, criminals are criminals. We will never ever allow criminals in the BCL. We have suspended every leader and activist found involved in criminal acts.”
Many leaders and activists, requesting anonymity, have claimed that these unethical activities of a few are ruining the party’s goodwill. However, the party has done little beyond suspending or expelling the accused from the Chhatra League, or whichever affiliate organisation they belong to.
Former Chhatra League president and now General Secretary of Awami League Obaidul Quader in recent stated that leaders and activists found involved with unlawful activities were not only suspended, but also brought to book.
“We even brought a minister and minister’s son to book. We did not want any leader or activist such as Tufan Sarkar in Awami League or any of its affiliated organisations,” he added.