The protesting students announced that they will take part in academic activities if the university fulfils only three of their demands
Academic activities at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) have virtually come to a standstill after the killing of second-year student Abrar Fahad. Both teachers and students of the university want to salvage the image of the institution as the premier engineering university. But there has been no strong move by the authorities to resolve the deadlock.
Abrar Fahad, 21, a resident of the Buet's Sher-e-Bangla Hall, was beaten to death on October allegedly by some Bangladesh Chhatra League men over his alleged affiliation with Jamat-e-Islami's student wing Chhatra Shibir.
After the killing, Buet students staged demonstration and placed 10 demands, including the arrest and capital punishment of Abrar's killers.
The students withdrew their protests on campus on October 16. But they have been boycotting all academic activities since then.
Later, they announced that they would take part in academic activities if the university fulfil only three of their demands. The demands are expulsion of all the killers, punishment for those who were involved in ragging, and punishment for anyone involved in political activities on campus.
Meanwhile, in a new development, the police pressed charges against 25 people in the Abrar Fahad murder case on Wednesday. Monirul Islam, the additional commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) made the announcement at a press briefing at the DMP Media Centre in the capital's Ramna area.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, director of Students' Welfare at Buet, said they will expel all the students whose names are on the charge sheet in the Abrar murder case.
"The students who are found guilty will definitely be expelled from the university. We also have a probe team that is trying to identify the students involved in the murder," said Mizanur Rahman.
However, he did not say when the guilty students will be expelled.
The director of Students' Welfare also said, "We will do everything possible to bring back a congenial academic atmosphere on campus. We want to restore the image of the university."
Antara Madhuri Tithi, spokesperson of the Buet student movement, told The Business Standard that they will not take part in academic activities until their three demands are met.
"We know that boycotting academic activities will have a serious impact on our academic life, and that we are going to face a severe academic session jam. No doubt about that. But we have nothing to do. We are fighting to bring back the good reputation of the university," she said.
"If we stop our movement without getting a good and congenial atmosphere at Buet, we and the upcoming students will keep facing the same situation again and again."
"So, our demonstration is for a better future for the university," Tithi added.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Buet movement have responded to the call of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for a meeting to resolve the crisis.
UGC Chairman Professor Dr Kazi Shahidullah and a five-member team of the movement are set to meet at the chairman's office at 10am on Thursday.
UGC Director (public university management division) Md Kamal Uddin told The Business Standard that a discussion on how to resolve the crisis will be the main focus of the meeting.
"Buet is our asset. There will be a positive outcome through the discussion," he said.
Welcoming the UGC's initiative, Tithi said they will attend the meeting and will place their demands there.
"We will not change our demands and will not take part in the academic activities until the three demands are met," she reiterated.
In the meantime, the Buet Teachers' Association at a general meeting on Wednesday urged Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Saiful Islam to call an academic council meeting to resolve the crisis as early as possible.
The meeting also decided to form a committee made up of teachers to restore the image of the university.
A leader of the association, wishing anonymity, told The Business Standard, "We are still in the dark about a possible solution. The vice-chancellor's measures are not enough to resolve the crisis."
Dr AKM Masud, the president of the Buet Teachers' Association, said academic activities at the university have stopped for over a month, which is unexpected.
"The teachers think that an academic council meeting is a must to restore academic activities as soon as possible. That is why the Buet Teachers' Association has asked the VC to take the initiative," he said.
"Buet has had an exceptional image since its establishment. It is our collective duty to uphold the image," he said.