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10 December, 2019 12:59:11 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 December, 2019 03:32:39 PM
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Students continue to fall prey

RAGGING, TORTURE AT PUBLIC VARSITIES
Staff Reporter with Our University Correspondents
Students continue to fall prey

The failure of the proctorial bodies of the country’s premier universities to ensure discipline is pushing up torture and ragging incidents, which go unheeded and unpunished in most cases. Although most of the public university authorities have disciplinary committees to curb such crimes on the campus, they have failed to fulfill their functions. Students continue to face torture, ragging, harassment, and assault by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists without anyone to defend them. Most of the time, varsities form several investigation committees to probe the allegations of physical and mental torture of students, but to little avail. Our correspondents talked to the students and teachers of different public universities, including Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University, and Chittagong University. They found that when any assaulted student lodges complaints with the university proctorial body or dormitory provost, they do not take proper steps immediately and only promise action after investigation.

In Dhaka University (DU), there have been many recent conflicts among political and general students. Here the BCL has been accused of torturing students in the guest rooms of the varsity's residential halls. But the university administration says action will be taken if specific complaints are received. But most of the time there is no fruitful outcome. Many students do not even lodge complaints out of fear and despair.

While the DU administration claims that it is taking steps to curb such crimes, the malpractices continues. First-year students are ordered to participate in regular political and guestroom programmes organised by BCL. These students say they were forcefully sent to the guest rooms of the varsity. Also, BCL men apparently threatened them that if newcomers fail to pay heed to their orders, they would be deprived of their hall seats.

A student platform called 'Legal Seat is My Right' recently organised an exhibition titled 'Ganaroom, Guestroom and Anti-Terrorism'. At the exhibition, they displayed photographs and news articles documenting the issue.

The convenor of the forum, Armanul Haque, said: "The saddest part is that after being continuously tortured or abused, they don’t even get any help to get out of the trauma."

In this regard, DU proctor Prof. AKM Golam Rabbani said: "If students make specific complaints, we take action immediately. We took action in the past upon receiving complaints. Sometimes,

it becomes difficult to take action because of the lack of evidence. In such cases, eyewitnesses have to speak up. From now on, we will maintain a complaint box where victims can lodge their grievances while maintaining their anonymity.” Vice-chancellor (VC) Prof. Md Akhtaruzzaman said: “The hall administration has been instructed to accept any complaints about incidents taking place in the halls. These practices are not encouraged in any way.” Asked about the administration’s statement, DU Central Student’s Union (DUCSU) vice-president Nurul Haque Nur said: “The administration sometimes takes action under pressure. But it becomes difficult for them to implement it.” Acting BCL president Al Nahian Khan Joy said: “The BCL will be there to implement the varsity administration’s initiatives in this regard.”

Joy also denounced the torture of students in the guestrooms in the residential halls of the varsity. “No one is forced to take part in any political programme. Occasionally, unexpected events may occur. But action is also taken against those involved in those incidents,” he said. In Rajshahi University (RU), there is a disciplinary committee to curb crimes like ragging on the campus. But complaints keep pouring in from students who have become the victim of torture.

The authorities have formed many investigation committees to probe the allegations of torture of students, sexual harassment, ragging, corruption and partiality during exams, but without much effect.

Students allege that around 15 rooms at nine male residential halls, especially Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall and Mader Bux Hall, are being used by BCL activists as torture cells. BCL activists are said to torture and beat up students suspected to be involved with Chhatra Shibir and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal.  In the past 10 years, BCL men are alleged to have tortured more than 300 students on the campus:

Abdul Majid Ontor, spokesman of RUCSU Andolon Mancha, said: “Students continue to face torture. The authorities, along with the disciplinary members, do not take action on account of consideration for BCL men in most cases. The proctor himself is the chief adviser to the disciplinary committee. More than 100 allegations have been lodged to him. But no particular response has been forthcoming.”  

BCL RU unit general secretary Faisal Ahmed Runu said: ‘We have no torture cell. But we prevent those involved with Shibir men from creating anarchy on the campus.’ “However, the recent assault of a finance department student is unexpected. We express our deepest regret and will take action against those involved in the incident after forming investigation committee. We are alert to avoid any crimes on the campus. We will take organisational action if any allegation comes our way,” he added.

The proctor, Prof. Luthfor Rahman, said: “The RU has many committees for ensuing overall security. It has a central security committee, with the VC at its helm. The proctor serves as the member secretary. We take action after allegations are lodged before us. We do not treat students as political persons.”

In Jahangirnagar University (JU), students often face torture by the ruling party-backed students at dormitories. They are often abused, harassed, or assaulted by these elements.

Most torture incidents take place at dormitories on the campus. BCL men flex their muscles over activities centering seats at dormitories here. Freshers become the main victims.

However, no fresher wants to lodge any complaints to the hall authorities as they fear the possible repercussions.  Despite the longstanding demand of a special students’ complaint cell, no such boy has been formed.

JU Proctor ASM Feroz Ul Hasan said: “If any such incident takes place at dormitories, the hall authorities take initiatives. Also, the proctorial body is responsible for resolving the complaint made by students in the dorms. If the occurrence is severe, the hall authorities inform it to the central authorities for taking action.”

“University authorities form probe bodies to find out the reasons. The probe report is submitted to the disciplinary board, which then takes action against the accused,” he also said.  “If we are informed of any such crimes on the campus, we take action against the perpetrators even without receiving any complaint,” he added.

Prof. Bashir Ahmed, president of the Hall Provost Committee, said: “We have already set up CCTV cameras in corridors of all dormitories. It will enable us to get to the root of such crimes very easily.”

In Chittagong University (CU), the authorities have launched an online student complaint cell.

Students will be able to use the cell to lodge complaints under different categories like ragging, threats, extortion, torture, physical assault, sexual harassment, social media fraud, eve-teasing, and others.

The complainants can log in using the address www.cuproctor.org.  Assistant proctor of the University, Rezaul Karim, said: “We have launched this website to prevent unwanted incidents on the campus. All students and candidates can complain freely, as we will maintain their anonymity.”

“We believe this website will help bring down the rate of these incidents on the campus,” he added.

“If anyone lodges any complaint with the proctor’s office, a meeting of the Board of Residence Health and Disciplinary Committee is held. VC Shireen Akhter chairs this meeting. We usually take decisions on any untoward incident in this meeting,” he noted.  Ipshita Chakraborty, a fourth-year student of biochemistry department, said: “Ragging is common here not just during the admission period, but throughout the whole year.”

“Newcomers are tortured,” she claimed. Earlier, On November 20, a student of CU was suspended for beating up a visually impaired student on the campus. CU proctor Prof. SM Monirul Hasan said Morshedul Alam Rifat, an honours student of management and also a BCL activist, was suspended for one year for the offence.


IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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