Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Four RU teachers jailed





From left: Moloy Bhoumik, Selim Reza Newton,

Abdullah Al Mamun and Dulal Chandra Biswas



The speedy trial court of Rajshahi yesterday sentenced four Rajshahi University teachers for two years of rigorous imprisonment for bringing out the silent procession in the campus on August 21 violating Emergency Power Rules (EPR) of 2007.


Each convicts -- Moloy Bhoumik of Management, Dulal Chandra Biswas, Sayed Selim Reza Newton and Abdullah Al Mamun of Mass Communication departments were fined with Tk 1000, defaulting on which will suffer one month more in jail.


Two other accused in the case -- Dr M Saidur Rahman Khan, former vice chancellor of the university, and Dr M Abdus Sobhan, syndicate member and convenor of RU Progressive Teachers' Society, were cleared of the charges and acquitted.


Both the teachers from applied physics and electrical engineering department went home after they were released from Rajshahi Central Jail at 1.30pm.


The assigned judge of the court Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ruhul Amin pronounced the verdict at 11.35am after an hour long judgement speech in a jam-packed court room.


Tight security measures were taken in and around the court, RU campus and several points of the city. The law enforcers allowed none but journalists, lawyers, family members of the accused and some senior teachers. Hundreds of curious people including students were waiting outside the court.


In his speech judge Ruhul Amin said, the court was adjudging three charges of EPR violation by the teachers through their leave en masse on July 26 to protest Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina'a arrest, silent procession on August 21 and secret meeting for instigating campus violence on August 22.


"Out of 20 prosecution witnesses, only one was found to be neutral eye-witness and he was Bengali daily Samakal's photojournalist Zabid Apu. Two photos of teachers' procession were produced before the court as evidence. Zabid Apu said those photos were not captured by him and he did not provided police any photo. But he established that teachers held the procession, he captured its photos that were published in Samakal on August 22", said the judge.


He said, Zabid Apu's version and published photos clearly proved holding of the silent procession in violation of Section 3 (4) of EPR and involvement of the four teachers.


"As there was an emergency in the country, bringing out of the procession violated rules...All accused persons are teachers of highest educational institute and they are engaged in a great profession. Besides, case documents showed their past records and conducts is not bad. Considering this, the court thinks lowest punishment is apt for proven allegation".


However, the judge said, the prosecution could not prove charges of observing strike in the name of en masse leave and holding secret meeting for instigating students to attack on law enforcers under Sections 4 (3) and 8 (2) of the EPR.


"There is no law against leave en masse and there was no evidence of taking such leave against the of secret meeting was taken from behind. Investigation official could identify none but Prof Dr M Abdus Sobhan in the photo, nor could he tell what was told in the meeting".


The Incident

Some RU teachers paraded a silent procession in the campus on August 21 protesting the police attack on Dhaka University students. Students called strike on the following day.


On the strike day, a rickshaw puller was killed, around 200 including police and journalists were injured vehicles were torched, and properties including the vice chancellor's residence was damaged during day-long clashes between police and thousands of students in and around RU campus.


The students' demonstrations had begun in protest at police attack on Dhaka University students on August 20 and demanding withdrawal of the state of emergency and removal of police from the campus. The incidents forced the government to impose curfew in major cities.


On night of August 23, members of Rapid Action Battalion arrested Dr M Saidur Rahman and Dr M Abdus Sobhan, and Moloy Kumar Bhowmik on the following day.


Former officer-in-charge (OC) at Motihar Police Station, Khondoker Ferdous Ahmed filed the case against the three teachers on August 26.


He alleged, a number of unnamed students allied with some teachers involved themselves into teacher-student politics as a sequel to Dhaka University incidents.


The accused persons with a political ill-motive observed a strike on plea of leave, held procession, and secret meetings that helped students to go violent against law enforcers.


The three teachers were placed on remand and taken to the Joint Interrogation Cell in Dhaka on August 28.


Names of Dulal Chandra Biswas, Sayed Selim Reza Newton and Abdullah Al Mamun were implicated later in the charge sheet submitted on September 1. They surrendered before the court four days later.


Metropolitan magistrate SM Fazlul Karim framed charges in the case on September 17 and the case was shifted to court of Ruhul Amin following separation of the judiciary on November1.


Golam Arif Tipu, Hamidul Haque, Mansur Ahmed and Aslam Sarkar also moved the case for the accused. Public prosecutor Masum Ahmed Tipu and court sub inspector Shamsul Ahmed pleaded for the state.



All six teachers were seen smiling as they were taken to jail after the judgement. Soon after their departure from court premises, wives of the four convicted teacher and their relatives broke down in tears.


The defense lawyer in the case Golam Arif Tipu said, they would challenge the verdict to the district and session judge court.


"A deep conspiracy and instigation against accused teachers by vested quarters in the university was reflected in the verdict. Punishment was given on basis of disputed photos. The logic that relieved the two teachers are applicable for others too", he said.


Eminent literature Prof Hasan Azizul Haque said the verdict was unexpected. "The verdict is too heavy (guru-danda) for the teachers. We hoped all teachers would be acquitted".


RU VC Prof Dr Altaf Hossain denied commenting saying "We are bound to abide by court rulings".


Moloy's wife Swapna Banarji, Dulal's wife Sanchita Biswas, Newton's wife Susmita Chakrabarti and Mamun's wife Udicha Islam did not make comment. They said, they are preparing for facing the troubles ahead.


Our RU correspondent reports: Hearing the court verdict, students of Mass Communication department broke into tears and started gathering in front of department.


They met department chairman Prof Khademul Islam and sought his permission to launch demonstrations.


Prof Khademul Islam told journalists that he asked students to respect court ruling.


Huge number of police, plain cloth police and intelligence men were deployed in the campus from morning.  A platoon of police was in position in front of the department.


The two released teachers did not come out before media till evening. Their relatives, collegues, students and journalists thronged in front of their houses. 


However, The Daily Star managed talking to Prof Dr M Saidur Rahman Khan in the evening.


"I was surprised at the time of my arrest as I did not commit any crime with my knowledge. I am glad for my release after long and troublesome legal battle. I got justice. It proved my innocence".


The former RU VC said, "The judgement against four other teachers has marred my happiness". He hoped, these convicted teachers would be freed after appeal to higher court against the verdict.




In the middle of nowhere (, a blog published If I Am Jailed (Letter To My Wife). [This letter from one of the professors to his wife was received the night before the verdict]
awaiting verdict.

A Rajshahi University teacher's letter to his wife.

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