We saw him lying on the floor, smiling as we approached through the door. His body was covered with a thick rug; found his mom and sisters sitting beside him, weeping silently.
He is a human rights activist, a student at the top university of the country and a sober, popular fellow among his peers. And there he lying on his back, both of his legs and his right hand broken, with a finger crushed.
As a matter of fact, he was lucky and he knew it well. Police didn’t nab him, he wasn’t found dead in a ‘gunfight’ with 15-20 bullets in his body, neither was he disappeared or even arrested. It was his friends and fellow students who suspected him as an activist of Shibir, ‘pressured’ him for some information and gently handed him over to police. Somehow he managed to avoid the imminent arrest and received support from his friends, the rest are just the by-products of a situation.
He was not alone though. The evening of 21st January was not very favorable for five more students like him at Sergeant Jahurul Haque Hall of Dhaka University. One unlucky young student was captured by BCL activists of the Hall, and he was compelled to give more information about other activists of Shibir. Tortured beyond words, the poor fellow spoke a few names. They were summoned immediately to the leaders’ room.
Their interrogation started in a peaceful manner. After a brief chitchat, they were asked to provide information regarding other Shibir activists, which was naturally denied. All of a sudden, they were blindfolded and someone started to beat them with chains. Simultaneous kicks and punches along with strikes of rods and hockey sticks just added some more flavor in their sadistic game. After a while, they were given another chance to speak out. But their responses were all the same.
They were taken to the rooftop of the five storied building for advanced level interrogation. Some of them threatened to throw them away from the roof, others kept beating. But the silence of these students drove them mad, so they started more intimate ways of torture.
My friend got his lips burned out from a lit cigarette. Someone brought a plier and took a finger from his right hand through it, pushed until he had his sadomasochistic satisfaction. A hot water heater was brought to make them talk, and continuously used in their arms leaving burn marks and unspeakable pain.
When this barbarity reached the point of no return, my friend lost his defense and uttered two names. How unfortunate, he didn’t know that those two are also in the same roof with him, getting the same or even worse treatment.
Somehow the nightmare ended. The valiant fighters of doom came downstairs carrying their prizes, six wounded blood soaked bodies, and gently handed them over to the proctorial body of the University, who patiently waited there to ‘rescue’ them. They immediately rushed towards Dhaka Medical College Hospital; a police car followed them all along.
At the hospital, they were thoroughly checked and given primary treatment. Immediate x-ray of my friend revealed that both of his legs got badly fractured, and his right hand was completely broken. The tortured finger of the right hand was also fractured. The burn injuries on his lips and arms along with bruises all over the body forced even the police-on-duty to wonder, ‘how is this even possible? Why would someone beat any other person like that?’. Though he knew the answer well, and we all do.
Somehow his relatives and friends managed to take him away safely, but the other five were not so lucky. With plastered hand and legs, wounds across the whole body and mountainous agony, they headed for the prison.
This is not a story of any notorious torture cell of any security forces, nor is this infamous remand treatment of police forces. It was a gentle way of showing ‘the spirit’; it took place at the residential student hall of the apex university of the country, students of which are often gloated as being the torchbearers of the country. The perpetrators were none but the ‘glorious’ students of that very institution.
And again, this is not a single tragic incident; it has become a part and parcel of our University life. There is not a single month where stories like this are written, tears of helpless mothers are shed and bloods of innocent students are spilt at the hands of their fellow students.
Irony of fate is, my friend works on documenting and researching the ongoing human rights violations, especially political violence, torture and arrests. Now, the storyteller himself became the story.
As a matter of fact, if you truly believe in justice, honesty, patriotism and welfare of your country in these days, wait for your turn to get ‘treated well’ like this.
Unless, you stand up and protest. Your call…
Featured image of ruling party student activists (Bangladesh Chattra League) of Dhaka University bearing machetes and iron rods. Source: http://www.dhakacourier.com.bd/shame-of-students%E2%80%99-politics-need-teachers%E2%80%99-cooperation/