Friday, February 12, 2010

RU Rampage: Islami Chhatra Shibir

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Police and Bangladesh Chhatra League Rajshahi University unit general secretary yesterday filed two cases accusing around 600 Islami Chhatra Shibir activists in connection with Tuesday's violence on campus and the murder of Faruk Hossain.

Meanwhile, Rajshahi Metropolitan Police suspended eight policemen in connection with neglecting their duties.

Police during raids at Rajshahi University and surrounding Jamaat-e-Islami-and-Shibir dominated areas picked up 63 Shibir men. Twenty-eight of them were placed on five-day remand each.

Rajshahi University Chhatra League General Secretary Majedul Islam Opu filed a murder case in connection with the killing of Faruk Hossain, a Chhatra League worker and final-year student of the mathematics department, around 4:30am yesterday accusing 64 people, including 35 named Shibir leaders and workers.

Motihar Police Station Sub-Inspector Ershadul Alam filed the other case with the same police station around 1:30am accusing over 500 unnamed and 29 identified Shibir men, said Mrinal Bhattacharya, assistant commissioner of police.

Rajshahi University Shibir President Shamsul Alam Golap and General Secretary Mobarak Hossain were accused in both the cases.

Tuesday's violence at Rajshahi University left Faruk Hossain dead and 100 others injured. Faruk was hacked to death by cadres of Shibir in an overnight attack on different Rajshahi University dormitories. Students said Shibir men captured eight dormitories, which were dominated by Chhatra League.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police last night suspended eight policemen for negligence of duty at Shah Makhdum Hall where Faruk was killed.

The suspended policemen are Assistant Sub-Inspector Mohsin Alam of RMP Detective Branch, Nayek Al Mamun, constables Naimul Haque, Arifur Rahman, Ishaq Ali, Monwarul Islam, Akkas Ali and Khairul Bashar of riot police department.

They have been closed to Rajshahi Police Lines, police sources said.

RMP Commissioner Nawsher Ali told The Daily Star that the decision was made following a primary police investigation.

A joint team comprised of Rapid Action Battalion and police personnel between 1:30am and 6:00am picked up around 45 Shibir men raiding Rajshahi University, its adjacent areas including Binodpur, Meherchandi, Budpara and other areas of Rajshahi city and surrounding districts.

Police said the arrestees include two named in the first information report--Hasmat Ali Liton, president of Abdul Latif Hall Shibir unit, and Abdur Razzak, general secretary of the dormitory unit of Shibir. They were arrested at private students' messes in the city.

However, only 28 were shown arrested and sent to court in connection with both the cases, police said. The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ruhul Amin granted five-day remand for each of them. Police had sought seven-day remand for each, said Debendranath, a court inspector.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Sardar Nurul Amin told The Daily Star that they had arrested the Shibir men for interrogation. "After proper investigation into their involvement, some arrestees were released upon their undertakings."

Police arrested 18 Shibir men at a mosque in Parila of Poba upazila around 11:00pm last night. "All 18 are students of Rajshahi University and were arrested following a tip off," said Abu Bakar Siddik, officer-in-charge of Poba Police Station.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque Tuku visited injured Chhatra League workers and Armed Police Battalion members, injured in a road accident while going to Rajshahi University, at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital yesterday.

Inspector General of Police Noor Muhammad too went to Rajshahi Tuesday night and visited the injured at RMCH.

During the IGP's and the state minister's visit to RMCH, injured Chhatra League workers alleged that policemen were silent and some of them looked the other way when Shibir cadres killed Faruk and dragged his body some 500 yards to dump in a manhole.

The IGP held meetings with senior officials of RMP and the district late into Tuesday night. He held a conference with superintendents of police of different districts in Rajshahi division till 1:30pm yesterday. He visited the campus on his way back to the capital.

The IGP told The Daily Star, "We sat to look into the whole Rajshahi University incident, identify those who were given duties during the incident and how much they were able to carry out their duties.

"We also discussed how the incident began and how it happened. We will sit with the state minister for taking actions against law enforcement officials, if found to have neglected their duties."

Chhatra League President Mahmud Hasan Ripon at Dhaka University yesterday alleged that the leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Chhatra Shibir, who work in the police department and the university administration, attacked Chhatra League men at Rajshahi University.

Meanwhile, Chhatra League workers beat up Jamaat supporter Khorshed at Bagha upazila and damaged the upazila Jamaat office around noon. In Rajshahi city, Chhatra League workers hurled brickbats at the office of Islami Life Insurance Ltd from a procession damaging its windowpanes.

A spate of violence has also been reported from Nilphamari, Pabna, Patuakhali, Gaibandha Barisal and Habiganj.

Kishoreganj upazila Jamaat office in Nilphamari was ransacked by a mob yesterday. Sources said Chhatra League brought out a protest procession around yesterday noon and when it reached the Jamaat office around 2:00pm Jamaat activists verbally abused the Chhatra League men, sources said.

The mob then ransacked the office.

Chhatra League men ransacked Pabna Press Club yesterday forcing Chhatra Shibir to postpone a press conference there. Shibir had called for the press conference there yesterday to protest the attack on two student messes near Edward College Tuesday night. Shibir activists stayed at the messes.

Police obstructed Shibir men from entering the press club on security grounds.

Local journalists later barricaded the Pabna-Rajshahi Highway for two hours demanding punishment to the attackers.

In Patuakhali, Chhatra League ransacked at least eight rooms of Shibir activists in Patuakhali Science and Technology University Tuesday night. Over 50 Chhatra League activists attacked Sher-e-Bangla Hall and M Keramat Ali Hall and ransacked the rooms.

In Gaibandha, Chhatra League and Shibir activists clashed in Palashbari upazila Tuesday night leaving at least 15 people injured. Chhatra League men also attacked the local Jamaat office, sources said.

Chhatra League activists set ablaze the Jamaat-Shibir office at Anantapur of Habiganj and vandalised the Jamaat office in Mehendiganj of Barisal last night.

Shibir was reborn at DU mosque in 1977
Islami Chhatra Shibir, Jamaat-e-Islami's student front which was called Islami Chhatra Sangha before Bangladesh's independence and which actively helped Pakistani occupation forces in 1971 to commit genocide and other war crimes, once again came under the spotlight with the latest brutal killing at Rajshahi University.

Islami Chhatra Sangha was reborn on February 6, 1977, at a mosque in Dhaka as Islami Chhatra Shibir. It initially organised its activities mainly based around mosques from where they recruited people especially youths to expand their network.

In a special publication of Shibir on the occasion of its silver jubilee, a former president of Shibir said, "Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir began its journey anew at the Central Jame Masjid [mosque] of Dhaka University."

Shibir began acting with a long-term main objective to establish Islamic society countering secular spirit of the country.

Besides mosques, Shibir simultaneously strengthened its organisation at educational institutions. Especially in the 1980s, Shibir was the centre of discussion for introducing its self-styled killing missions at Chittagong University.

Shibir repeatedly came under the spotlight for killing their rivals and cutting their tendons, a unique style introduced by the Shibir unit of Chittagong University.

The main aim of cutting tendons is to ensure that the victim would be crippled forever, if one survives after the cutting.

After victory on December 16, 1971, the government's decision to ban four communal parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami, resulted in the halt of Islami Chhatra Sangha operations.

The banned parties including Jamaat were given the green light in politics during the rule of late president Ziaur Rahman after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.

Jamaat entered open politics in the country and formed its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir, which is little different from the original name but in short both are known as ICS.

Jamaat claims that Shibir is not their front organisation. But in Shibir's special publication former ameer of Jamaat Golam Azam said, "Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir are obviously followers of the same ideology."

Shibir never mentions that the original name of their organisation was Islami Chhatra Sangha. However, Motiur Rahman Nizami, incumbent president of Jamaat-e-Islami, was president of central Islami Chhatra Sangha and incumbent Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid was the president of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971.

War records show Jamaat formed Razakar and Al-Badr forces to counter freedom fighters. Former secretary general of Jamaat Maulana Abul Kalam Mohammad Yousuf established Razakar. Al Badr included the Islami Chhatra Sangha members.

Anticipating defeat, the Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators--Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams (led by mostly leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Sangha)--picked up leading Bengali intellectuals and professionals on December 14, 1971, and killed them en masse to crippling the nation intellectually.

In 1971, Mojahid directed his party workers to build Al-Badr to resist freedom fighters, according to a "Fortnightly Secret Report on the Situation in East Pakistan". In line with an official procedure, the then East Pakistan home ministry regularly dispatched the report to General Yahya Khan, the head of government.

At a rally to mark what was then known as Badr Day on November 7, 1971, Mojahid came up with a four-point programme to "wipe Hindustan off the face of the earth".

"Move forward with your head held high and with the Quran in heart to materialise the programme. If necessary we will march up to New Delhi and fly the flag of greater Pakistan," he told the 1971 rally.

Shibir grows under teacher-admin care

Islami Chhatra Shibir has been perpetrating a reign of terror on Rajshahi University campus for over two decades with the backup from university administration and pro-Jamaat teachers.

Their terror activities cannot be controlled at present as some teachers loyal to Jamaat-e-Islami have been in the administration posing as Awami League loyalists, a few RU teachers told The Daily Star.

Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat, has been able to carry out criminal activities and get away with it since the pro-Jamaat teachers have tactfully recruited their men in the RU administration as teachers, officials, proctors and even the vice-chancellor, they said.

Another source said even an intelligence agency has worked in favour of Jamaat-Shibir during the recruitment of VC, Pro-VC, proctors and other top officials by giving positive reports to the government on teachers who have good links with Jamaat or work as "secret agents" of that party.

The source alleged that present Vice-Chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan and his close ally Assistant Proctor Mustak Ahmed both have good relations with Jamaat teachers and are secretly working in favour of Shibir men.

This administration, which includes the VC, the proctorial body and pro-Jamaat teachers, always works for Shibir men, a teacher of the university said, wishing anonymity.

Only the administration of former VC Abdul Khaleque could control Shibir with a strong hand, but others have actually worked to help the student body establish its supremacy on the campus during the tenures of both Awami League and BNP, the teacher said.

Proctor Chowdhury Muhammad Zakaria comes from a family with BNP background and Assistant Proctor Mustak Ahmed comes from a family with Jamaat background while Students' Adviser Golam Sabbir Sattar Tapu took part in an election at the university from pro-Jamaat panel, an RU teacher said.

"Except for the pro-VC, all key position holders are loyal to Jamaat, so, why will they control the cadre-based politics of Shibir?" he said.

When contacted, the RU VC did not agree to speak to The Daily Star.

Tapu claimed that he contested the RU Syndicate election from the group of Quader Bhuiyan. "Chowdhury Muhammad Zakaria was also in that group along with other progressive teachers. But I left the group when it went political," Tapu told The Daily Star.

Proctor Chowdhury Zakaria told The Daily Star that none of his family members except a maternal uncle, who died, is involved in BNP politics. "My family has a number of Awami League leaders also. Why don't you write about it?" he said.

When contacted, Assistant Proctor Mustak Ahmed said, "It would be very difficult to find someone in my family who is involved with Jamaat-Shibir. None of my brothers and sisters and my father are involved with Jamaat-Shibir."

According to the university administration sources, there are around 1,100 teachers at RU of whom around 325 belong to the progressive parties, 300 are loyal to BNP and 400 to Jamaat.

To maintain its supremacy on the campus, Shibir keeps pressuring the university people by issuing threats directly and indirectly, sources said.

Around 60 incidents of clashes among the student wings of different political parties have taken place on RU campus since 1971, which left 28 people killed and over 2,100 injured, sources in the RU administration said.

The university remained closed for over 600 days because of the clashes.

Shibir has been involved in most of the clashes since 1980s after it started its activities on the campus in 1980. Towards the end of the '80s, left -leaning student wings including Chhatra Moitree became weak organisationally, which helped Shibir establish its supremacy.

In the latest incident on Tuesday, Shibir men hacked to death Faruk Hossain, an activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League, in Shah Mokhdum Hall. Around 100 people were injured in the overnight clashes between the activists of BCL and Shibir following the death.

Sources said Shibir killed Faruk as a revenge for the killing of RU unit Shibir general secretary Sharifuzzaman Nomani on March 13 last year.

A leader of the RU Officers' Association said, "Shibir men used to build a relatives base through marriage in the university area. Later, they started storing arms and sharp weapons in the houses of their new relatives and used to stage showdowns on the campus."

Shibir collects tolls from students and businessmen in the name of various programmes and publications to run its cadre-based politics.

"We are forced to buy their publications, no matter we support it or not," an RU student said.

"Shibir generally targets the poor students of the university and tactfully involves them in its politics by giving them financial help and seats in the halls," a teacher told The Daily Star.

Shibir has a strong base not only in and around the RU campus but also at other intuitions in Rajshahi city. The RU unit Shibir has been controlling the university campus with the help of its city unit. Even Shibir cadres from other educational institutions join the RU unit during any clash at RU.

The pro-Jamaat teachers also give strong backup to Shibir through ideas, planning, financial help and various administrative facilities, including seat allotment at halls, sources said.

Shibir at Rajshahi University uses various methods and devices for torturing its targets both mentally and physically, including killing, intimidation, beating and cutting tendons.

Political rivals, students, even teachers and journalists have fallen victim to such tortures over the years.

In the '80s, Shibir was known as the rog-kata (tendon-cutting) party, a reference to its favourite tactic of maiming opponents by slicing their tendons. Shibir men would also often cut off the wrists of their opponents.

The practice severely damaged its image as a party, which forced them to change their methods of torture.

Shibir cadres visit target students in different rooms in university dormitories every day to get them involved in their political activities like group meetings, rallies and processions, keeping mental pressure on them, sources said.

They said the Shibir cadres take their targets on a "remand" confining in a room and give them the last warning for acting as per their direction. They threaten them with dire consequences if they fail to do so.

Shibir men would take students who go against their directives or fail to give tolls and beat them up mercilessly with iron rods and hammers wrapped in cloth. The method has seldom led to their victims' death but has caused permanent disability to many, sources said.

However, RU Shibir has apparently returned to their earlier method of cutting tendons as their cadres cut off the tendons of at least four BCL men and hacked another to death.

Shibir men have always had a psychological pressure on the university students, teachers, officers and employees, journalists and even high officials of the university. This has prevented the RU people from expressing their voices freely.

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