BUET students boycott classes, exams as BCL holds gathering

BUET students boycott classes, exams as BCL holds gathering

Several hundred students of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on Friday announced the boycott of all classes and examinations for an indefinite period after the ruling Awami League’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League staged a showdown on the campus early Friday morning.

The protesters announced their plans of resuming demonstration from 8:00am today to press for a five-point demand, raised in a press conference held at the Shaheed Minar where the protesters demonstrated for about five hours ending at 8:00pm.

Responding to the demand, the university authorities issued a notice on Friday night after a meeting led by vice chancellor professor Satya Prasad Majumder that said the seat allotted to Imtiaz Hossain Rahim was cancelled.

The notice also said that a probe body has been formed to investigate the Friday morning incident and recommend actions in accordance with the university rules. The notice, however, asserted that all academic activities at the university will continue. 

Earlier at the press conference, the protesters gave the university authorities an ultimatum until 9:00am today to meet the first two demands, or else, they warned that they would demand resignation of the director of the university’s Directorate of Students’ Welfare.

‘We are concerned about our safety over intrusion of outsiders on the campus in the wee hours,’ read a line of the statement that the protesters distributed from the press conference.

‘We are boycotting all academic activities, including term final exams, scheduled for March 30–31, in protest,’ the statement said.

The protester’s first demand is the expulsion of Imtiaz Rabbi, a student of civil engineering, from his dormitory and the university as well for organising the showdown.

The second demand is the suspension of those who assisted Rabbi in organising the showdown from their dormitories and the university.

The third demand is about getting an explanation from the BUET authorities as to how the outsiders had entered the campus and also an assurance about legal action to be taken against the outsiders.

The fourth demand is the resignation of the director of the Directorate of Students’ Welfare if their first two demands are not met by 9:00am today.

The last demand asks for a written assurance that the protesters would not be harassed.

The protesters alleged that the activists of a particular political party, including their top leadership, had entered the university campus at 1:00am on Friday.

As time went by, the protesters said in their written statement, outsider activists of the political party kept streaming into the campus, arriving by motorcycles and private cars, while some of them carried bouquets.

The statement said that such a political gathering goes against the university’s policy since political activities are banned on the campus.

The statement said that the protesters believed that the university authorities and the student welfare directorate were aware about the political activities happening on the campus.

Though the students did not mention the name of BCL in the written statement, they mentioned about BCL during the demonstration and while speaking with journalists.

Security guards at the university and other witnesses also confirmed that the gathering on the early Friday morning comprised BCL leaders and activists.

BUET authorities banned student politics on the campus four days after the brutal murder of Abrar Fahad, a second-year student of the university’s electrical and electronics engineering department.

Abrar was beaten to death by then leaders and activists of the university unit of the ruling Awami League-backed student body Chhatra League over his Facebook post criticising the government’s deals with India on October 7, 2019.

The killing had triggered street protests across the country. His father filed a case with the Chawkbazar police over the incident.

On December 8, 2021, the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 sentenced 20 accused to death in the murder case. It also sentenced the other five accused to life imprisonment.

All 25 accused were students of BUET and leaders and activists of the BCL, who were also expelled from the university and BCL amid protests.

The case is now pending with the High Court.