Friday, February 12, 2010

Rajshahi Jamaat chief arrested

Friday, February 12, 2010
Police yesterday arrested Rajshahi city Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Ataur Rahman in connection with the two cases filed for Tuesday's violence at Rajshahi University and the murder of Faruk Hossain.

Meanwhile, police claimed to have recovered the body of an Islami Chhatra Shibir leader, accused of being involved in Tuesday's violence, at a house in Chapainawabganj.

The law enforcement agencies have started combing operations at all the Jamaat-Shibir strongholds across the country. They arrested 32 Shibir men. Six were placed on remand.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police yesterday suspended another policemen in connection with negligence of duty at a Rajshahi University dormitory Tuesday.

Police arrested Jamaat leader Ataur, also an assistant headmaster of Loknath High School in Rajshahi, around 10:15am yesterday as he was going to school, Boalia Police Station chief Jasimuddin told The Daily Star.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police Commissioner Nawsher Ali said Ataur was being interrogated and he was arrested after investigation revealed his involvement in the violence. "Only two days before the violence, Ataur presided over a meeting in Rajshahi city where many Jamaat leaders delivered provocative statements and we received information that he ordered the murder," said the RMP commissioner.

Talking to reporters at Boalia Police Station Ataur denied involvement in the violence.

Rajshahi city Jamaat General Secretary Abul Kalam Azad termed the arrest unfair and gave a statement protesting it.

As police recovered the body of a Shibir leader from a house at Choitonnaypur under Shibganj upazila in Chapainawabganj early yesterday, they arrested two people there.

The deceased was identified as accounting student Hafijur Rahman Shahin, 25. He was a student of Rajshahi Collage but the student welfare secretary of Rajshahi University Shibir unit, Jamaat sources said. He is the son of Abdul Mannan of Rajshahi town.

Superintendent of Police Nazrul Hossain said police on information raided Toufijul Islam Tanu's house around 2:00am. He said some Shibir cadres took shelter there after the Rajshahi University incident.

Sensing the presence of police, they fired a shot, said police adding that policemen heard the shot and entered the house and found a body lying on the floor.

Police also arrested house owner and local Jamaat leader Toufijul Islam Tanu and his son Shibir leader Mahfuzur Rahman, 27.

Fazlur Rahman, Officer-in-Charge of Shibganj Police Station said police filed a murder case against Mahfuz and three to four unidentified people.

In Dhaka, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid blamed police for killing Shibir activist Hafizur Rahman Shahin. "Police shot Shahin to death in his sleep at his friend Mahfuz's house. This is an inhuman act. Now we are scared," he said.

Police and Chhatra League Rajshahi University general secretary on Wednesday filed two cases accusing around 600 Shibir activists in connection with the violence. Three days after the nightlong mayhem at Rajshahi University, an injured Bangladesh Chhatra League worker Kawsar Alam Sarker filed a case with Motihar Police Station accusing 24 Shibir men of stabbing him during the violence.

RMP yesterday suspended another police officer, in connection with negligence of duty on Tuesday at Shah Makhdum Hall where Faruk was killed, raising the total number of suspended policemen to nine. Sub-Inspector Anwar Hossain Babu, second officer of Motihar Police Station, was also closed to the Rajshahi Police Lines.

A joint team comprised of Rapid Action Battalion and police personnel rounded up 45 Shibir men between 1:30am and 6:00am yesterday raiding Rajshahi University and its adjoining areas.

Police arrested 32 Shibir cadres, 16 of them accused in the two cases filed Wednesday, from Natore, Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts in an overnight combing operation. The number of total arrestees is now 78.

Six of them were sent to a court yesterday and placed on five-day remand each.

State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku said, "The law enforcement agencies have been ordered to launch a combing operation at Rajshahi University areas and educational institutions known as strongholds of Jamaat-Shibir."

He told this to reporters after a special meeting with heads of the law enforcement agencies at the home ministry.

The meeting was convened in the backdrop of Tuesday's violence at Rajshahi University and the killing of Faruk Hossain, a final year student of the university's mathematics department. Faruk was an activist of Chhatra League, the student front of ruling Awami League.

The university and villages around its campus are known as strongholds of Jamaat-Shibir.

"Jamaat-Shibir men are involved in the acts of cruelty. Police will conduct operations in different universities, colleges and educational institutions where the anti-liberation forces have strong bases," Tuku said.

Police raided over 50 messes dominated by Shibir in the port city early yesterday.

However, none was actually arrested in the drive.

Police sources said half the Shibir activists had already left the messes while some of them were found completely empty during the drive.

They picked up five people but later released them, said Chittagong Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (north) Banaj Kumar Majumder.

He said police served forms at the messes for filling up by all the residents of the messes. As per a government order, the residents require to provide their father's and mother's names, addresses, names of the educational institutions they go to, their roll numbers, voter ID numbers, employers names and addresses, and a few more important information in the form.

"The residents were asked to submit the forms within two days and after getting the information we would monitor their activities," he said.

At a protest rally on Rajshahi University campus yesterday Chhatra League demanded immediate removal of university Vice-Chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan and held the university authorities responsible for failing to provide security to students.

BCL men beat up journos at RU

A group of Bangladesh Chhatra League cadres yesterday severely beat up 11 journalists and photojournalists at Rajshahi University.

Seriously injured photojournalist of Prothom Alo Azaharuddin and New Age reporter Soumitra Majumdar were admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.

Sources said Chhatra League activists around noon yesterday attacked Musaddek Ali, a student of Islamic history department, suspecting him to be an activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir in front of the university central library.

Sources said as Azaharuddin and Channel i cameraman Moin Hossain of Dhaka were taking photographs and footage of the incident, Chhatra League activists led by Jewel, a second-year student of mass communication and journalism department, Rocky, a third-year student of geography department, Ninad, a student of public administration department, Rubel, Tuhin, Rony, Masud along with 20-30 others attacked them.

Nine more journalists received injuries as they tried to protect the two. Chhatra League cadres also damaged the camera of Azaharuddin.

The injured others are Janakantha reporter Shahidul Islam Khan, The Daily Star reporter AM Jahid, Channel i reporter Opu, reporters Ismail Hossain and Rubel Pervez, The Editor reporter Atikur Rahman Tamal, Jugantor reporter Sayem Sabu, reporter Lutfor Rahman and The New Nation reporter Sohel Rana.

Following the incident, journalists of Rajshahi University staged demonstrations and held a protest rally on campus demanding punishment of the cadres. They also gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the university authorities and Chhatra League to punish the cadres.

Later, they placed a memorandum before Vice-Chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan.

Chhatra League leaders led by Chhatra League Rajshahi University president Awal Kabir Joy and Secretary Mazedul Islam met the journalists and expressed concern over the incident.

BCL yet to detect Shibir infiltration

Bangladesh Chhatra League has yet to take a formal step to detect alleged infiltration by Islami Chhatra Shibir even 48 hours after the Awami League general secretary's claim.

BCL President Mahmud Hasan Ripon said they are enquiring in their 'own ways' to identify the Shibir infiltrators. "If any leaders' involvement with Shibir is proved, they will be ousted immediately," he told The Daily Star.

Earlier on Tuesday, AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters they found through investigation that some "identified pro-Shibir men" were given "important positions" in four Dhaka University hall units of BCL.

His comments took most BCL leaders by surprise. The apparently frustrated leaders from hall units to the central committee believe a senior leader like Ashraf should not have publicly made such a "crucial" comment, putting the student body into a scuffle.

He could have rather asked BCL for taking organisational action against the alleged Shibir men, said some top-rank BCL leaders.

However, a number of BCL leaders echoed the AL general secretary and went further to say that Shibir has infiltrated not only the hall units but also the DU unit and the central committee.

A kind of mistrust and suspicion has surfaced in the associated student body of ruling AL following Ashraf's comments, some DU unit leaders observe.

They suspect the comment might trigger internal clash on the campus as factional leaders would get an opportunity to brand their rivals as Shibir men.

"Any president or general secretary can now be blamed as pro-Shibir which is very frustrating for us," said a hall unit leader asking not to be identified.

"I can see seeds of doubts in the eyes of many when they look at me since Tuesday. It's really frustrating," said the president of a DU hall unit.

BCL Central Organising Secretary Ashrafur Rahman told The Daily Star if the AL general secretary has any specific information in this regard, he should make it public to save the organisation that has fallen into a critical position for his statement.

At least 11 leaders of the central, DU and different hall units are allegedly involved or were once involved with Shibir politics prior to joining BCL on DU campus, according to BCL leaders.

Several leaders claim a good number of Shibir men have infiltrated their organisation since the AL assumed power last year as there is "no proper system" for recruiting members.

They say most of the alleged Shibir-turned-BCL leaders came from madrasa background.

"If madrasa background students are barred from having Chhatra League posts, 90 percent possibility of Shibir infiltration will go," observes a senior BCL leader.

Sohel Rana Mithu, international affairs secretary of the organisation, said, "An investigation should be launched immediately to detect and oust the infiltrators after such a remark from the Awami League high-up."

RU victim maimed for life

Lying on a bed in the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (Nitor) yesterday, Saifur Rahman Badshah was yet to know that doctors suspect he might not be able to use his left arm ever again.

Although he managed to survive the gruesome violence carried out on Rajshahi University campus by armed cadres of Islami Chhatra Shibir through Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday, he could not avoid getting stabbed in the neck, and slicing of the tendons of his legs and arms.

He also did not know yesterday that he will have to limp for months before being able to walk normally again.

"We want normalcy back in our brother's life," said Rajiur Rahman Raja, elder brother of Badshah.

A student of Rajshahi University and an activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League, Badshah was brought to Nitor in the early hours of Wednesday for better treatment.

Prof Abdul Awal Rizvi, director of the hospital said a four-member team of doctors headed by Prof Dr Mohammad Iqbal Qavi operated on Badshah yesterday.

"Although it is not wise to comment on his condition right now, we suspect Badshah might not be able to use his left hand ever again," he said adding that Badshah will also have to limp for several months as it usually takes that long to walk normally after tendons of one's legs are cut.

Badshah told The Daily Star that he was in a group of retreating Chhatra League activists during the clashes, and fell behind. A group of armed Shibir cadres soon caught him and dragged him to Habibur Rahman dorm.

"They first stabbed me in the shoulder and the neck, and then dropped me to the ground. Then they cut the tendons of my arms and legs with knives. Then they started beating me with iron rods, and I became unconscious at that point," he said.

Another victim Arif, who was also brought to Nitor with Badshah, said he was studying in the student mess where he lives around 11:30pm on Monday when a group of armed Shibir cadres went there and dragged him to a nearby field where they mercilessly hacked him with sharp weapons before cutting the tendons of his arms and legs.

Prof Rizvi said they operated on Arif yesterday as well, and he will also take a long time to recover from the injuries, although hopefully he will not lose the use of any limb.

"They were telling me if I join Shibir they would spare me, otherwise they would slaughter me," Arif said, "As I declined they hacked me repeatedly and left me lying covered with a bed sheet."

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid yesterday visited the injured students in Nitor and said the government will take stern actions against the perpetrators of the mindless violence.

"People who carried out the barbaric inhuman acts violating the laws of the country, will face stern government actions," he told The Daily Star.

He consoled Badshah and Arif, and assured them that the government will bear all cost of their treatment.

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