Numerous allegations of misconduct and criminal activities have been found against four suspended leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) Patharghata College unit, who are currently in police custody for the rape and murder of a young woman in Barguna.
After speaking to students and teachers, the Dhaka Tribune has learned that former Chhatra League president Ruhi Anaal Danial and former general secretary Saddam Hossain Chhotto had held the entire educational institution hostage.
These four suspects were allegedly involved in criminal activities such as controlling the procedures of admission, exams and results, harassing teachers and abusing female students.
Many of their victims claimed that these former Awami League student front leaders behaved recklessly because they had support from senior Chhatra League leaders.
Danial and Saddam launched a philanthropic organisation called 'Rakter Bandhan'. There are allegations that members of that organisation took female college students to secluded classrooms in the pretext of blood donations, and forced them into performing acts of indecency.
Further investigation revealed that these former Chhatra League leaders were backed by a local lawmaker named Shawkat Hasanur Rahman Rimon. Danial’s brother Mofasser Hossain Babul is also a councilor of the Patharghata Ward 7, which contributed to his reckless behaviour.
A number of female students of the Patharghata College, on condition of anonymity, said Danial and Saddam targeted teenage girls who took admission to the college.
The duo had a habit of threatening women who rejected their sexual advances. They also reportedly threatened to sexually abuse women who refused them, and boasted that they could ruin their academic careers.
The students also complained that Danial sexually abused a female student on college grounds in broad daylight, cheered on by his cohorts.
Some students claimed that Patharghata College BCL Women Affairs Secretary Laboni reportedly helped Danial and his cohorts in sexually abuisng female students on the fourth floor of the college.
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Danial, along with his associates, former general secretary Saddam and former organising secretary Mahidul Islam Rayhan, were also reportedly involved in narcotics trade and drug abuse.
Another suspect named Md Mahmud, who was Chhatra League's upazila unit deputy secretary, was previously arrested by police for drug related offences. However, he was released without any further legal action.
Speaking to a number of teachers, the Dhaka Tribune has learned that a number of Chhatra League leaders, including Danial and Saddam, had harassed exam invigilators inside a college classroom in August this year, for guarding “too strictly” against attempts of cheating.
Several teachers complained that these four suspects had held them hostage through threats and intimidation, and had established control over the college administration in the past five years.
“Followers of the four Chhatra League leaders had tried to force other students to organise demonstrations, demanding immediate release of the suspects. However, majority of the students avoided participating in those programmes,” Vice Principal of the college Md Jahangir Hossain told reporters.
Jahangir demanded exemplary punishment of these four suspects, if their involvement in the rape and murder is proven.
On August 10, the body of an unidentified woman was found in a pond on the Patharghata College premises. Police’s Detective Branch detained the 44-year-old college guard named Jahangir for interrogation last Friday in connection with the murder.
Police were able to extract leads related to the crime from Jahangir that led them to make the arrests of Mahmud and Rayhan, who were also interrogated.
During interrogation, Mahmud admitted to his involvement in the incident and gave police names of four others who he claimed were also involved.
On Sunday, Danial and Saddam were arrested based on Mahmud’s confession.
On November 15, a court granted the police three days to interrogate the suspects -- Danial, 22, Saddam, 21, Rayhan, 19 and Mahmud, 18.