Students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Sust) have become the main target of a mugging racket of Sylhet city.
At least 50 students have reportedly fallen prey to the muggers over the last one month.
The criminals usually attack the students on moving CNG autorickshaw, which is the main mode of transport between the university and the city.
These CNG autorickshaws usually offer ride-sharing with other passengers. Many of the victims are of the opinion that a good number of the drivers of these vehicles are involved in the crimes.
Jahidul Alam Bhuiyan, a student of the Food Engineering and Tea Technology Department, said he was attacked by the muggers while going to Madina Market area from Lama Bazar by a CNG autorickshaw on October 24.
The CNG autorickshaw was filled with passengers, but the other passengers stopped midway at Osmani Medical and snatched away the mobile phone and whatever money Jahidul had in his wallet.
Mojibur Rahman, another student, became a victim of the muggers on October 29. He got on a CNG autorickshaw from Surma Residential Area. It was about 8:30 pm. The co-passengers moved to two corners of the three-person seat, making Mojibur sit in the middle.
As the CNG autorickshaw was moving past Topobon area, the passengers on both sides of Mojibur suddenly pulled out pistols and shoved the muzzles against his belly.
They took away his mobile phone and wallet, which contained about Tk2,200.
On October 30, 17 students who were victims of similar mugging incidents filed a joint complaint with the Sust proctor. A copy of it was also sent to the commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP).
They alleged that the muggers work in liaison with the CNG autorickshaw drivers. They pose as passengers and take the students hostage at gun point on the running CNG autorickshaw.
Even after filing the complaints, such incidents were rampant in the beginning of November. Last Monday, some agitated students staged a demonstration against the menace by blocking the Sylhet-Sunamganj road.
The move also infuriated the CNG autorickshaw drivers and transport workers. Around 10am, the students and the transport workers locked in a clash, leaving at least 10 students injured. Later, police intervened and chased away the transport workers.
Police have increased their patrol on the road following the clash.
Sust Proctor Johir Uddin Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune that they had already requested the law enforcement agencies to take quick measures to stop the mugging that are taking place around the university areas.
Sust Vice-Chancellor Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed said the university authority in a meeting with the high ups of the police administration had suggested setting up check posts at suitable locations to watch over the movement of the CNG autorickshaws.
Jalalabad police station Officer-in-Charge Shafikul Islam said police had taken the matter seriously and are carrying out drives to nab the criminals.