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Death of Abu Bakar: Verdict delivered, but family left in the dark

  • Published at 12:47 am October 27th, 2019
File photo of Abu Bakar

Abu Bakar Siddique, a third year student of Islamic History at DU, sustained a head injury during a clash between rival factions of Chhatra League at the university’s Sir AF Rahman Hall on February 2, 2010

It has been nearly 10 years since Dhaka University (DU) student Abu Bakar Siddique was killed in clash between rival factions of Bangladesh Chhatra League on the university campus. The verdict in the case filed over his death was also delivered by lower court on May 7, 2017.

However, it is difficult to say that justice has been served, as no one was held responsible for the student’s death, and no appeal was filed. The victim’s family were not informed about the verdict either, and only found out through a newspaper report eight months later.

Abu Bakar Siddique, a third year student of Islamic History at DU, sustained a head injury during a clash between rival factions of Chhatra League at the university’s Sir AF Rahman Hall on February 2, 2010. Police filed a case over the incident the same day.

Abu Bakar was only a bystander to the conflict, and he died of his injury at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) the following day, February 3.

Eight Chhatra League activists were arrested in the case filed over the incident, but all of them were acquitted as the court could not determine who was responsible for Abu Bakar’s injury and subsequent death. 

According to the autopsy report, the victim had a coin shaped injury mark on the back of his head caused by a blunt object. However, the probe committee formed by DU as well as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) failed to ascertain whether the injury was caused by a brickbat thrown by the Chhatra League activists or a tear gas canister thrown by police.

Family left in dark, wishes to appeal

When contacted, Abu Bakar’s elder brother Mohammad Abbas Ali said he had phoned state lawyer ABM Bashir Uddin, who was prosecuting the case, on several occasions for updates.

“I called Bashir several times in the past, but he never told me the circumstances of the case. He just said the case was ongoing and to send expenses,” Abbas Ali said.

He also mentioned that he did not send the lawyer any money.

“I assumed that the media would cover the verdict and everyone would know what happened. When I found out about the verdict about eight months after it had been delivered, tt was beyond my imagination that everybody would be acquitted,” he added.

He further said he wished to appeal, and would do so if given assistance.

When the Dhaka Tribune attempted to contact state lawyer Bashir, it was found that he had died two years ago.

Supreme Court Barrister AKM Ehsanur Rahman said it is the responsibility of the public prosecutor to inform the plaintiff, in this case police, and the victims family about the verdict.

“If the plaintiff does not know about the verdict and fails to appeal before the deadline, it is still possible to appeal by taking permission from the High Court,” he said.

However, Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Court Assistant Public Prosecutor Mohammad Mahfujur Rahman Chowdhury said it was not obligatory to inform the plaintiff about the date of the verdict. 

Claiming that the victim’s family failed to look after the case, he said it is only obligatory to inform the plaintiff of the framing and submission of the charge sheet.

An inconclusive probe

Following the incident, DU formed a nine-member probe committee to look into the cause of the violence and identify the people responsible. However, the probe committee failed to come to definitive conclusions regarding how Abu Bakar was killed.

The committee recommended another enquiry by a “high-level expert committee” instead.

 When contacted, head of the DU probe committee Harun-or-Rashid and committee member Prof Rahmatullah said they could not remember the exact events.

“I cannot even remember what happened three days ago, let alone 10 years ago. I do not want to give any answers based on assumptions,” Prof Rahmatullah said.

Then proctor of DU KM Saiful Islam Khan, who was also a member of the DU probe committee and entered the hall during the clash, said the committee had found three possible ways in which Abu Bakar may have sustained the fatal head injury.

“Chhatra League factions led by the hall unit secretary and president attacked each other. Police threw tear gas canisters to disrupt the clash. We are not sure whether the tear gas canister hit him, or if it was a brickbat or metal rod thrown by the activists,” he said quoting the 17 page probe report.

Saiful further said the probe committee had identified then Chhatra League hall unit president Saiduzzaman Faruk as the main culprit responsible for the violence.

“At one point, we noticed that the police investigation did not seem to be moving forward properly. We objected to the investigation and suggested it be handed over to CID,” the former proctor added.

According to Saiful, Faruk had been involved in extortion and was backed by some leaders of central Awami League. 

“The hall unit president [Faruk] tried to establish his dominance. We caught him [during clash in the hall], but he escaped and started [violence] again,” said Saiful. “We said clearly that the death was because of him.”

A total ten students of DU were expelled after submission of the probe report. They are: Saiduzzaman Faruk (Arabic), Mansur Ahmed Roni (Education Research Institute), Asaduzzaman Jony (Philosophy), Alam-e-Julhas Jewel ( Accounting), Abu Zafar Md Salam (Library Management), Enamul Haque (Law), Mashidul Islam Khan Tapu (Economics), Rakibuddin (Accounting) and Mehedi Hasan Milon (Bangla).

CID later investigated the matter and submitted a charge sheet against 13 students of AF Rahman Hall Chhatra League. The accused were: Saiduzzaman Faruk (Arabic), Enamul Haque (Law), Mohammad Asaduzzaman alias Jony (Philosophy), Alam E Zulhash Juel (Accounting), Touhidul Khan Tusher (Marketing), Mohammad Alamagir (Law), Rokibuddin Rokib (Accounting), Mofizul Alam Khan Topu (Management), Mansur Ahmed Roni (History), Mehedi Hasan Lion, Mohammad Foysal (Public Administration), Enamul Haque Ershad (Law) and Mohammad Razib (Political Science).

All of the accused were acquitted due to lack of proper evidence.

Additional Public Prosecutor Md Mahfuzur Rahman Chowdhury told Dhaka Tribune: “We need witnesses. The witnesses said they don’t know about the incident. Everybody said they rescued him [Abu Bakar] with injury.”