The incident took place at the guest room of Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall early Wednesday
Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists beat four of its activists on Wednesday at a Dhaka University (DU) hall over allegations of ties to Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.
They were beaten up repeatedly at different places in Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall, including the guest room, the main building's rooftop and the hall union office, from around 12 midnight to 2am, witnesses said.
Both parties were activists of the same student organization and followers of Chhatra League Central Committee President Al-Nahean Khan Joy. The perpetrators of the violence, who are to participate in the next hall union elections, beat the other party for their supposed secret ties to Chhatra Shibir.
It is to be noted that on October 7, Abrar Fahad, a second year Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) student of the electrical and electronics engineering (EEE) department, was beaten to death by a group of Chhatra League men at the university’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall over similar false allegations.
A Dhaka Court on Tuesday directed to move the case to speedy tribunal, for which a government gazette is necessary.
The victims are third year student of political science department, Sanwar Hossain, second year student of tourism and hospitality management department, Md Mukim Chowdhury, Islamic history and culture department student Minhaz Uddin, and the Arabic department's Afsar Uddin.
The DU hall unit Chhatra League activists handed over the victims to Shahbagh police station with the help of hall authorities around 2am. Police took Mukim and Sanwar to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) for treatment and later brought them back to custody.
The four victims were released from the police station around 1:20pm on Wednesday.
Regarding the incident at the DU hall, Al-Nahean Khan Joy said he was “informed about the development.”
"I am unaware of the assault though. Physical assault is not acceptable in any situation," he told reporters.
DU Proctor AKM Golam Rabbani claimed that the students were not tortured. "They will be released if no ‘suspicious things’ are found," he said on Wednesday afternoon.
Later, Shahbagh police OC Abul Hasan informed reporters that police released the injured students. He refused to comment about their involvement with Shibir.
Leaders of Santrash Birodhi Chhatra Oikya, an alliance comprising of quota reformists and left leaning organizations, were present at the police station when the students were released.
Leaders of the platform said the four were handed over to their local guardians.
Sanwar and Afsar’s parents said that they could not trace the two after their release.
They said the two could not be reached over mobile phone. "We do not know where they are now. Their friends could not trace them also."
In the afternoon, Santrash Birodhi Chhatra Oikya brought out a protest procession from TSC (Teacher-Student Centre) across the university campus over the incident.
In another development, Mukim began a sit-in protest at the base of Raju Memorial Sculpture on the campus around 5pm demanding justice for the assault.
‘We were summoned and tortured’
One of the four victims, Mukim, told Dhaka Tribune that around 11:15am, Vice-President Anwar of Chhatra League's Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall unit summoned him to the hall’s guest room over the phone.
“Upon reaching there, I saw [Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq] Hall Union Vice- President (VP) Saifullah Abbasi Ananta, general secretary Toufikul Islam, hall unit Chhatra League Joint Secretary Amir Hamja, and Vice President Anwar Hossain,” he said.
“As another group of students were celebrating someone’s birthday party, the Chhatra League and hall union leaders took me to the hall union office room.”
“Then they called another victim Sanwar Hossain there and Anwar showed screenshots of a conversation but I initially failed to understand whose conversation it was,” said Mukim.
“At one stage, Amir Hamja started to punch and kick me labelling me a Shibir activist and continued to show me the screenshots,” he said
“After a while, I understood that they were showing me some fake screenshots which they claimed to be screenshots of my conversation.”
“As I denied this, hall union VP Abbasi started to beat me with a hammer,” he added.
“At around 12:30 am they took me to the hall’s terrace and former Chhatra League central unit member Mahfuzur Rahman Emon, Amir Hamja, Abbasi, and hall unit Chhatra League's Vice-President Kamal Uddin Rana, beat us with cable TV wire and a [cricket] stump,” he said.
The Chhatra League and hall union leaders struck the two in their left knees and hands, alleged Mukim.
“Later, at around 1:30 am they took me to the guest room again and I saw that Minhaz Uddin and Afsar Uddin were in the guest room and they were beaten again in front of Badhon’s office,” claimed Mukim.
“The leaders continued to beat me and Sanowar and started beating Minhaz and Afsar the same way.”
“Professor Md Billal Hossain, a house tutor of the hall came to the spot at 2:30am but the leaders continued to torture us, while the teacher stood there and watched us being beaten without taking any action,” he said.
“Then the teacher informed the proctorial team and the cops about the matter and subsequently handed us over to law enforcement,” Mukim added.
Contacted, Chhatra League’s Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall unit Vice President Anwar Hossain said the four were not tortured but claimed that they found proof of their ties to Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Probe body formed
Meanwhile, the Dhaka University authorities formed a three-member probe body to investigate the incident.
Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall Provost Dr Delwar Hossain met Mukim at the Raju sculpture around 10:30pm.
The provost said: "What our house tutor Md Billal said did not correspond with Mukim's version. We have formed a three-member probe body to find out the truth."