Chhatra League say they own DU campus

In a shameless act of hooliganism on the Dhaka University campus, Chhatra League activists yesterday foiled a peaceful rally at the Shaheed Minar

  • Photo- Syed Zakir Hossain/ Dhaka Tribune

  • Photo- Syed Zakir Hossain/ Dhaka Tribune

  • Photo- Mehedi Hasan

  • Photo- Syed Zakir Hossain

In a shameless act of hooliganism on the Dhaka University campus, Chhatra League activists yesterday foiled a peaceful rally at the Shaheed Minar organised to protest last week’s ruthless attack on three people.

These activists of the ruling party’s student front, four of whom have already been expelled in connection with the attack, were mostly from the Shahidullah Hall dormitory of the university.

Even the university’s acting proctor and riot police failed to tame these out-of-control hooligans, most of whom are students of the top university of the country.

The Chhatra League men yesterday did all kinds of ugly things to intimidate and scare away the peaceful protesters, comprising some of the most respected cultural and political figures, university teachers and journalists of the country, who went there to express their solidarity with the victims of that brutal attack.

There were several women among the protesters, whom they attacked with such obscene and filthy words that are hard to express in words.

Out of respect, people leave their shoes behind before stepping on to the compound of the Central Shaheed Minar, built in memory of the brave sons of the soil who sacrificed their lives.

In the struggle for earning the right to speak in Bangla in 1952.

But, the rowdy Chhatra League men went to the extent of taking out shoes in their hands standing right at the base of the monument to frighten the protesters.

Imtiaz Alam Beg, one of the victims of last week’s attack, is the son of noted photojournalist Manzoor Alam Beg, winner of the prestigious Ekushey Padak, awarded to people who have extraordinary contributions to the country’s literature and culture, in memory of the historic Language Movement.

The other two victims are Manzoor’s granddaughters Saba Ahmed, a former student of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of DU, and Rubaiya Ahmed.

On November 5, they were hanging out in front of the pond near the Shahidullah Hall when a group of Chhatra League activists attacked them brutally, charging the uncle and his nieces of doing “unsocial things” on the campus.

Soon after, media reported extensively on the incident and the university authorities eventually identified four Chhatra League activists from the dorm who had carried out the attack, and temporarily expelled them. All those four students are currently on the run.

Showing utter disrespect to the university authorities’ decision, the Chhatra League activists yesterday claimed that the protesters had been lying about the November 5 incident. They termed it a propaganda against the “general students” of the university and blamed Saba and Rubaiya of tarnishing their image in the social media.

Despite all these, it did not occur to them that what they had been doing were nothing short of crime. When the university’s acting proctor tried to calm them down and prevent them from attacking the protesters, they shouted at him asking: “Why would they call us criminals?”

Noted lawyer Dr Kamal Hossain, who joined the protest, said: “Who are these people? I doubt they are university students. If they were, they could not have done what they are doing. These Chhatra League activists say the Dhaka University preserves the pride of our Liberation War, Language Movement and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. They cannot pollute the environment of the university.”

He also said: “If they were real students, they could not have lied standing on the Shaheed Minar. Did they think Shaheed Minar was their property? I will ask the vice-chancellor to verify their identities…If Bangabandhu was alive and here, he would have kicked these hooligans out of here. They do not bear the pride of this institution.”

Citing 10 years of his teaching experience at the university, he said: “Students of this university did their best to build the country. I have seen many brilliant and honest students. But I have never thought that any student from here can try to justify a false story.”

When contacted, DU unit Chhatra League President Mehedi claimed that no Chhatra League activists went to the Shaheed Minar.

“They are general students. We have no right to drive them away from the spot. I have heard that they [the protesters] called DU students criminals. So, they protested against that. That is all,” he said.

Turn of events Civil rights group Brotee obtained written permission from the university authorities for holding the rally, in which Imtiaz, his family and a number of prominent ex-students of the university took part. Under the banner “Save Dhaka University from criminals,” they demanded punishment for the attackers.

Around 2pm, several hundred known Chhatra League faces came to the Shaheed Minar compound and formed a human chain at the base of the Language Movement monument. They were holding a banner that read: “Protect Dhaka university from propaganda of Saba and Rubaiya.”

Interestingly, they did not chant a single slogan or did anything until the protesters arrived around 3:20pm. By then, people from various walks of life had started gathering at the venue to join the protest.

When the protesters tried to get on to the main part of the Shaheed Minar compound, the Chhatra League men stopped them and asked them to leave.

The protesters had no other option but to leave the compound and take position on the pavement opposite the monument.

The Chhatra League activists then started chanting slogans against Imtiaz, Saba and Rubaiya. They termed Brotee chief Sharmin Murshed, Dr Kamal Hossain, renowned dancer Lubna Mariam, Prof CR Abrar, journalist Zafar Sobhan, DU Professor Dr Chowdhury Rafiqul Abrar and DU Alumni Association president Rokibuddin Ahmed traitors and agents of Beg’s family.

Two assistant proctors of DU arrived at the scene soon and prevented any untoward incident from happening. The protesters then moved to the steps under the trees.

When DU acting proctor Amzad Ali arrived at the scene and tried to calm the students they demanded removal of the citizen group’s banner. For about one and a half hours, the proctor and his assistants tried to quell the Chhatra League men but in vain.

At one point, the proctor contacted the Chhatra League DU unit President Mehedi Hasan Mollah and President of Shahidullah Hall unit Aminul Islam over phone.

Helpless Amzad was heard telling them over phone: “Come to the Shaheed Minar. Take back your people. They are creating trouble. They are ruining the university’s prestige.” Apparently, none of the Chhatra League leaders responded to his distress call.

By that time, the Chhatra League men made several attempts to attack the protesters, but were pushed back by the university authorities and police. At one point, riot police was called in to ensure the protesters’ safety, but the Chhatra League men blocked the law enforcers as well.

The protesters, among whom were popular folk rock artistes Anusheh, Shayan and Buno, started singing folk and patriotic songs.

In reply, the Chhatra League men shouted, addressing the female protesters, saying: “Stop singing Bangla songs wearing T-shirts. Do not come here wearing sleeveless dresses. Do not sing such songs wearing western attires.”

Soon after they also started singing the national anthem and other patriotic songs.

Around 5pm, Brotee chief Sharmin concluded the protest rally calling upon everyone to create such an atmosphere on the Dhaka University campus where there would be no criminal activity or women would not be harassed.

“I feel ashamed as a teacher of this university. I hope rule of law will prevail,” said Prof Abrar.

He also hoped that one day the young Chhatra League activists would realise what they had done was wrong.

“We are against the criminals, not the students. You should also join us,” he said while addressing the protest rally.

The Dhaka Tribune reporters talked to several students and asked them why they had occupied a spot that had been allotted to another organisation by the authorities.

Moin, who refused to disclose his full identity, said: “We did not take permission to hold the rally here. We are students of this university. We do not need any permission.”

Sharmin Murshed, one of the organisers, said: “Dhaka University is close to our hearts. We will not let anyone snatch it. Please protest every incident of repression against women on the campus.”

One of the victims Rubaiya said: “I cannot believe that the place where we used to roam around all day has become unsafe for us because of some rogues. I think, every ex-student should come forward to help and clean the mess off the campus.”

Singer Anusheh said: “One day, these students will understand they had done a wrong thing and will say sorry.”

Source: Dhaka Tribune