Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Freed RU teachers to go ahead with appeal against conviction

The lawyers of four Rajshahi University teachers yesterday decided to go ahead with appeal proceedings against their clients' convictions even though the government freed the academics two days ago amid mounting public demand.

The defence lodged the appeals with the District and Sessions Judge's court on December 9, one day before the teachers walked out of prison. The court set December 27 to hear the appeals.

The four teachers, meantime, joined their respective departments yesterday. They were given two-year jail terms on December 4 for breaking the emergency power rules by bringing out a silent procession on the campus on August 21.

Two other teachers and two university staff are still behind bars on charge of abetting torching a DGFI vehicle during the violence. The verdict in the subsequent case is due today.

"The teachers were freed following a government general amnesty. There are two parts in the court judgement -- the conviction and the sentences. So far as we know, the president cleared them of the punishment only... if it is so, we must try to clear them of the conviction too", said Golam Arif Tipu, who argued for the teachers in court.

He said they need to go ahead with the appeal proceedings even if the president's clemency covers both conviction and punishment because the government has not withdrawn the case.

"We don't want to give anyone the scope for creating problems in the future", said another defence lawyer.

An education ministry letter to the university vice chancellor, however, said the presidential pardon covered both the conviction and the sentences. The Daily Star obtained a copy of the ministry's letter.

The lawyers, however, said a home ministry letter to the jail authorities created the problem in which the ministry said the president pardoned only the jail terms and monetary fines.

The four teachers, meantime, demanded the release of their two other colleagues and four Dhaka University teachers after joining the departments yesterday.

Vice chancellor Dr Altaf Hossain said, "As per the education ministry letter, the four teachers will not face any problem as to their jobs ... even the period they spent in jail will be counted as job period".

Rajshahi University Teachers' Association in a press release yesterday called on the government to release all teachers and students of Dhaka and Rajshahi universities. Ruta welcomed the government for freeing the four teachers.

Freed teachers Welcomed


The freed teachers yesterday joined respective departments amid a warm and floral reception by students and colleagues.


Rejecting the receptions, the teachers, however, demanded immediate release of other teachers, staffs and students of Rajshahi and Dhaka universities.


Students again started a signature campaign for release of two other teachers of geology and mining department -- Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan Sajal and Golam Sabbir Sattar Tapu.


Sammilito Sangskritik Jote has sent an appeal to the chief adviser of caretaker government for releasing other teachers of Rajshahi University.


Talking to newspersons, RU vice chancellor Prof Dr Altaf Hossain yesterday expressed his satisfaction and said, the education ministry sent an order for not dismissing the freed teachers for their conviction.


Over a hundred students and teachers were waiting for Moloy Kumar Bhoumik in front of Management department with huge flowers.


As Moloy went there at 12.00pm, students made a red-carpet with flowers on his way to the department. But Moloy declined to walk over flowers saying that the time for receiving such ornamental greetings was yet to come as some other colleagues and staffs were still suffering behind the bar.


However following repeated requests, Moloy later dedicated the reception, accorded to him, to those university teachers and others who are still in jail and hoped for their immediate release.


The statutory academic committee of the department held a meeting with department chairman Emran Ali in the chair and took a resolution expressing their satisfaction at Moloy's return.


At 11.45am, Dulal Chandra Biswas and Abdullah Al Mamun went to mass communication department together.


Students who were waiting for them in colorful dresses from the morning in two parallel queues greeted them with flowers. They distributed sweets among students and teachers.


Sayed Selim Reza Newton witnessed a same welcome at the department when he reached there at 12.30pm.


Moloy Kumar Bhoumik termed their release as a victory of teachers and students where morality is concerned.


He said, "I don't felt guilty since my arrest. Our country has a tradition of tortures and atrocities by governments, ours case is not different and it stimulated up the very decaying conscious of the nation".


Dulal Chandra Biswas termed release of the teachers as a victory of truth and told reporters, "I am feeling delighted amidst of students at my if I regained vigor".


"A strong realisation developed in me during my stay in jail that I will devote my life teaching kindness and protesting indiscretions of society side by side academic teachings".


"We all four teachers pledged together before coming out of jail on Monday for staying beside students in all their logical movement against anomalies and atrocities", said Dulal.


Sayed Selim Reza Newton said, "The clemency was an achievement, though in late, government understood it's wrong...It became an example, usually a state undertook methods of repression when it thinks its people are weak".


"Citizens duty is to remind the state machineries of its wrongs and responsibilities, we took out the procession from this point of view. But the government misunderstood us".


Abdullah Al Mamun said, "I took part in the silent procession (on August 21, for what they were put behind the bar) as a human being concerned at the atrocities at Dhaka it was never to instigate any violence".


"I took oath for fighting for ensuring freedom of opinion and building political awareness".

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