“It is not new in Buet. Many students were harassed in the last few years. But the administration remained silent. The authorities cannot avoid the responsibility of Abrar’s killing.’’
----Prof AKM Masud, president, Buet Teachers’ Association
It finally came in 2017 – the cherished moment Asad Rahman had been waiting for since his childhood. He gained admission at Buet.
He was allotted a seat in Suhrawardy Hall, from where his journey towards becoming an engineer began. And things were going great for him.
And then, all of a sudden, his dreams came crashing down. "Nasty student politics" was to blame.
It was the darkest night in Asad's life when he was subjected to merciless, inhuman torture by Chhatra League men. Failing to take the physical torture for four hours and the humiliation any more, he eventually left the institution around which he had shaped his dreams.
Asad's is not an isolated incident of torture on the campus of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet). In the last six years, at least 30 students have had to leave Buet in order to escape the villainy and cruelty of leaders and activists of the Chhatra League.
What has indeed been alarming is that despite knowing of the brutality of the Chhatra League men towards students, the Buet administration never took any action against them, according to the Buet Teachers' Association.
Asad was born to a poor family in Chapainawabganj, spending his childhood in hardship.
"My father is a Muezzin and my mother is a housewife. They did everything possible for me. But I could not achieve my goal. I do not want to remember the experience. Nasty politics shattered my dreams," Asad Rahman told The Business Standard.
"I took admission in electrical and electronic engineering and attended many classes. But it was nasty politics that did the damage," he added.
"Hasan Sarwar Soikat, a second-year student of Mechanical Engineering Department, was searching for a Shibir man on the campus, for he would be rewarded if he could find such a man. As he did not find anyone, he called me to his room one night and exercised physical torture on me for four hours.
"Some five to six Chhatra League activists came to my room and led me to Hasan Sarwar Soikat's torture room. They started beating me for no reason. I was so traumatised that I still cannot overcome this agony," he said.
Asad said, "I was mentally upset and shared the incident with my parents. My mother called me and asked me to go home immediately. I went home and never came back to Buet."
"I took preparations for admission into a medical course the next year since I had already cancelled my earlier admission at Suhrawardy Medical College. I got a chance for admission at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in 2018, since when I have been here," he said.
"I want to forget Buet. It gave me a lot of pain. Truth be told, though, I am still in a state of psychological shock. Only God knows how I will recover from it," he added.
Asked about the punishment needing to be meted out to the culprits, Asad said, "I went to the hall authorities at the time, but they did not help me. There was no one to help me deal with my problem. Besides, there was no one I could share my experience with. Now I do not want punishment."
Abdur Rahim, another student who left Buet to escape harrowing experiences at the hands of the Chhatra League in 2017, is now studying in Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College.
Speaking to The Business Standard, he said dirty politics had compelled him to leave the Buet campus. "It killed my dreams, my future, indeed everything," he said as he recalled his bitter experience.
"I am fine now. But they snatched away my dreams and my career. I will not forgive them," he said.
"I cannot sleep properly even today. The torture I went through continues to hamper my life. In 2017, I could have died like Abrar. Luckily I am alive," he said.
Avijit Kar, a first year student of the Chemical Engineering Department and a resident of Ahsanullah Hall, lost his ability of hearing in one of his ears as a result of the torture Chhatra League leaders and activists subjected him to.
According to Avijit, it was a horrible night for him on June 27 this year. The Chhatra League men called eight to ten students to Room no 205 of Ahsanullah Hall. They beat them up for no rhyme or reason.
"I protested such behaviour of the Chhatra League men. When I did that, they started beating me and hit me on my ear. I have lost the power of hearing in that ear. Such are the activities of the Chhatra League at Buet," he said.
"There are no higher educational institutions in the world where students are tortured by their fellow students. The irresponsibility of the Buet authorities in failing to address the problem is questionable," he said.
Meanwhile, yet another student residing at Dr MA Rashid Hall has been suffering from various problems, including in the lungs and brain, as a result of Chhatra League men pouring hot water into his ears after failing to get a big amount of money they had demanded from him.
Buet residential students said there are eight halls at Buet. The Chhatra League has at least five "Torture Cells" in each hall.
Room no 2011 of Sher-e-Bangla Hall is a notorious torture cell. Many students have been tortured in the room. The latest one is Abrar Fahad whose life came to an end as a result of the brutality of the Chhatra League mafia.
Rubel of Sher-e-Bangla Hall from Water Resources Engineering Department, Dayen Nafiz Prodhan of Suhrawardy Hall, Saifullah of Nazrul Islam Hall from Computer Science and Engineering Department are among the hundreds of victims.
Of them, Rubel was admitted to a private hospital and kept at the Intensive Care Unit for a long time; Saifullah left Buet and it could not be known what he is doing now.
President of Buet Chhatra League unit, Khondoker Jamiush Sani told the media that the accused in Abrar killing held different posts in the Chhatra League.
But he said, "I did not know about the torture of students. If I knew, no one would be able to do it."
Meanwhile, the Buet Teachers' Association yesterday alleged that the university administration failed to ensure security to students.
Prof AKM Masud, the president of the association, said many students were tortured by influential student leaders in the university dorms.
"It is not new in Buet. Many students were harassed in the last few years. But the administration remained silent. The authorities cannot avoid the responsibility of Abrar's killing," he said.
General Secretary of the teachers' association Prof Md Mostafa Ali demanded capital punishment to the killers of Abrar.
The agitating students also placed an eight-point charter of demands, including ban on student politics, especially the Chhatra League's, from the campus.
Many central leaders of the Chhatra League, seeking anonymity, told The Business Standard that it was the concept of Buet Chhatra League activists that they would get top posts if they identify Shibir members. When they did not get one they put the tag on general students and beat them.
It is a political malpractice, they said.