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No RU action yet against BCL men

Asst proctors alleged to have joined BCL men in attacks on students

Mohiuddin Alamgir

The Rajshahi University authorities are yet to take any action against Chhatra League activists involved in attacking general students, who were protesting against increased fees and the introduction of evening courses, on the campus on Sunday.
The students and some teachers alleged that at least four assistant proctors had also joined Chhatra League activists, aided by the police, in attacking students although the teachers brushed aside the allegation.
The police have till Tuesday evening neither recovered illegal arms nor arrested any Chhatra League activists who used guns in the attacks on students.
The ruling party-backed Chhatra League, along with the police, attacked the students who were protesting against increased fees and the university move to introduce evening courses on a commercial basis. More than 100 students were injured and 20 of them are said to have been hit with bullets.
Witnesses, including university teachers and students, said that at least four assistant proctors — Serajul Islam, Helal Uddin, Mokarram Hossain Mandol, Shakhawat Hossain — joined Chhatra League activists in attacking the students in places around the university library.
The education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, declined comments on the matter  saying, ‘An investigation committee is working on the matter and my comments may influence committee members.’
Both the University Grants Commission chairman, AK Azad Chowdhury, and the education secretary, Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, said that they were not aware that teachers were involved in attacks on students.
Azad said that they would take stern action if any teachers were found guilty of attacking students.
Kamal said that he would inquire about the incident before making any decision.
Assistant proctors ran after protesting students shouting ‘Grab them,’ a history student said, adding that two of the teachers covered half of their face with handkerchief and scarf.
All the four were standing nearby when policemen attacked students and the proctors ran after protesting students who were running for shelter after being attacked by armed Chhatra League activists, students said.
Another student said that protesting students had tried to regroup in front of the library
building about 1:00pm and the police attacked them again. Assistant proctors were accompanying the police during the crackdown on students and journalists, ‘The teachers directed the police to attack students and journalists,’ a student said.
Sirajul Islam, Mokarram Hossain Mandol and Shakhawat Hossain all brushed aside the allegations and said they were there to contain the situation.
‘There is no question of us attacking students or leading others to attack them,’ Shakhawat Hossain said.
‘We tried to stop a hustle taking place between the police and journalists,’ Sirajul Islam said.
‘If we had not been there, violence could have intensified,’ Mokarram Hossain Mandol said.
Asked why they had their face half-covered with scarf, Sirajul Islam and Shakhawat Hossain said that they were trying to protect from tear gas and cold.
The university students had been staged protests since Thursday against the two to fivefold increase in fees and a move to introduce evening courses on a commercial basis branding the move part of a ‘ploy’ to privatise and commercialise education.
The authorities on December 24, 2013 decided to increase fees to raise money required for salaries of teachers appointed in addition to the number of positions advertised. The authorities also decided to introduce evening courses in social sciences, law and arts.
The university was closed for an indefinite period after the clashes on Sunday.
The vice-chancellor, Mizan Uddin, said that a committee had bee set up to investigate the matter. ‘If we find anyone guilty, we will take necessary action in line with law,’ he said.
Earlier, the Bangladesh Agricultural University proctor assaulted a female student on the campus in Mymensingh on October 9, 2012 when students were protesting against an increase in fees.
The New Age correspondent in Rajshahi University, meanwhile, reported that although six cases had been filed with Motihar police in connection with Sunday’s violence, none of the Chhatra League leaders and activists, who were photographed by newspapers pulling out their guns in the clash, were accused.
Students said that the university unit Chhatra League’s organising secretaries Shamsuzzaman Emon and Faisal Ahmed Runu, joint secretaries Nasim Ahmed Setu and Mahbubur Rahman Polash, environment affairs secretary Mustakim Billah and activist Sudipta Salam had fired into the students. Newspapers the next day also published photographs of the Chhatra League leaders, with their identification, pulling out their guns.
The central committee of the Chhatra League expelled Naism Ahmed and Shamsuzzaman Emon from the organisation.

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