Unable to tolerate torture and humiliation at least 30 students left the university in the past 10 years
Traumatised by torture at the Sher-e-Bangla Hall, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) student Aminul Islam wanted to leave the campus.
Almost every day, members of the Buet unit Bangladesh Chhatra League bullied the third-year student of the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department.
However, Aminul could not leave as he had nowhere else to stay.
Following the torture and murder of student Abrar Fahad, protests erupted against the bullying culture at Buet. After 58 days, students and teachers of the institution finally called the protests off when authorities promised to meet all their demands.
Abrar was beaten to death by a group of Chhatra League members at the Sher-e-Bangla Hall after he criticised the government in a Facebook post on October 7.
In the face of protests, the Buet authorities banned both student and teacher politics on its campus and removed the provost of Sher-e-Bangla Hall on October 10. All floors in each dormitory were brought under round-the-clock CCTV surveillance. The university also helped law enforcing agencies to arrest Abrar's killers and prepare the charge-sheet in the murder case in the shortest time possible.
Tithi, a spokesperson for the protesters said they had succeeded in returning smiles to the students' faces.
Aminul said, "I can move freely throughout the campus, unafraid. I am very grateful to my fellow students and teachers for creating such a wonderful environment at Buet."
Aminul was not alone in this though. For a long time, most of the students of Buet lived in fear of both physical and mental torture.
Hundreds of students claimed being tortured at the university by the leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League. Of them, at least 30 students left the university in the last 10 years, unable to tolerate the pain and humiliation.
"Senior students used to torture the juniors almost every day at the [Sher-e-Bangla] hall. Panic always prevailed among its residents. It was almost like a prison. I never expected the torturers to be expelled from Buet and arrested by police," Aminul added.
Recalling the "dark days", former Buet student Asad Uddin said, "I would have never left my dream institution if I had not faced such brutal torture." Asad is now studying at the Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barishal.
"I have heard that a wonderful environment prevails at Buet now. Although I was compelled to leave the campus, I am happy that the new students will now have more freedom at the university," he said.
Masum Billah Sharker, a third year student of Civil Engineering Department, said although many students survived the torture, Abrar Fahad lost his life.
"Buet is now a safe campus. All the credit goes to Abrar. However, it is very unfortunate that this change came only after the brutal death of a fellow student," he said.
Since the murder, Buet authorities formed a committee to identify the students involved in ragging and torturing on campus. A total of 46 students from Sher-e-Bangla, Titumir and Suhrawardy halls were suspended.
"We met all the demands of the students and now the environment here is excellent," said Professor Mizanur Rahman, director of Students Welfare at Buet.
Member of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and former teacher of Buet Prof Dil Afroz Begum said that she had faced many embarrassing questions regarding the hostile environment at Buet.
"Changing the environment was necessary. The Buet administration somehow realized the urgency of the matter and met the demands of the protesters," she said.
This will help the university become one of the most reputed institutions in the world, she added.