The Dirty Fraternity
Saad Adnan Khan
On January 2, 2012, as students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) observed their non-violent protest gain momentum and reach a positive conclusion, students of Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET) faced fierce and unwarranted violence of student activists of Chhatra League.
At the end of every year, the two day long annual feast is organised for the students of KUET. On December 31, 2012, students of the Aumor Ekushe Hall, the biggest hall on campus that boards about eight hundred residents, were not satisfied with the food quality. Each student had paid Taka 845 -- not the easiest of contributions for a lot of students.
Police on spot: Violence broke out in KUET last week. Photo: Star
Aumor Ekushe Hall had the biggest budget, and the quality of food was not satisfactory on January 1, 2012 as well. The organisational committee of the feast comprised of students of Chhatra League. On January 1 as the students got agitated due to the bad quality of the food, they vandalised the canteen and kicked the committee members out of the hall. The agitation was due to not only the bad quality of food, but also because of the unfair way the committee members had snuck a large amount of money in their personal pockets.
The Vice Chancellor, Dr Muhammed Alamgir, had come at night and talked to the students about the inconvenience of the food, and said that if the students of Chhatra League did something “fishy,” because of the way students kicked them out, he would take the liability. Next day, on January 2, by 1:30 pm, students of Chhatra League had gathered about 300 brainwashed Chhatra League student activists from nearby Khulna BL College. The students carried weapons like machetes, hammers, rods and heavy sticks. They broke the padlocks of the hall, entered the hall and started to beat anyone and everyone who were in front of them. They beat the ordinary unarmed students and taught them the “right lesson” for voicing out inconvenience and agitation over irresponsible and corrupt authority. They stabbed and broke bones of ordinary students, because they broke dishes and furniture of the canteen.
Students were keen on sharing information with Star Campus, but preferred staying anonymous. They gave names of certain students who were badly injured like Shujat, Tarek and Shubhojit of Department of Mechanical Engineering. Shubhojit was stabbed in his neck. A lecturer of the Department of Mechanical Engineering was present there, trying to take pictures. He was beaten by his students. Activists fled from the back gate as more teachers reached the hall. The police stood outside the hall the whole time, and only entered at 3:30 pm after the activists had left. At 2:00 pm, the VC had given the order to vacate the halls by 6:00 pm. Angry and shaken, the ordinary students went to the VC's house and threw stones at his house, which led to the injury of the VC's wife and daughter. The police in this case were not late to attack the ordinary students, the very students who were beaten, stabbed and injured by the Chhatra League activists. The activists and the VC filed cases against general students for the violence they showcased -- vandalising the canteen and the VC's house. The VC of course did not take any liability or responsibility as he had promised earlier to the students. According to the students, cases were filed against teachers as well, due to personal agenda the authoritative figures had with those teachers, according to some students.
“KUET was my home. It was a place of harmony. I missed my family in Dhaka, but our senior brothers were my family in KUET. After this incident, I don't know how to feel. How are you supposed to feel when you see junior students of 2009 and 2010 batches join activists of Chhatra League and beat up their seniors?” remarks a student of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
“You can explain the non-violent protest at BUET. BUET is in Dhaka, if Chhatra League had attacked, it would have gained instant media attention. KUET is so far away from everything. So much violence took place and no one noticed. There was no one who looked into the matter, no one who had our backs,” says another student of the same department.
On January 7, at 11:00 pm a human chain was formed in front of Press Club. Former students and students of the graduating batch took part in the chain. They demanded that the perpetrators are expelled permanently, the case against the general students be withdrawn, the campus be made corruption free and that the VC and Dr Shibendra Shekher Sikder, the Chairperson of the Department of Student Welfare (DSW) resign.
“It is no secret that the Chhatra League activists are pro-Awami League, and also have the support of the VC and the Chairperson of DSW, two other pro-AL administrators. The four activists who planned out the whole attack are Kajol, Munna, Arin and Zubayer who have always been politically involved,” informed a student of batch 2008. This is not the first time that political affiliation of students and administrations, through which they practice power, has been so vulgarly visible in the open.
Resorting to violence seems to be the only option to solve problems on campus these days. The general students of KUET did resort to violence to express their frustration with the authority, to which the Chhatra League students replied by stabbing necks and breaking bones. It is unfortunate to see that with every government, emerges a new batch of students who in the name of 'student politics' vandalise and destroy. When will these campuses be safe and secure for students who would rather study and focus on becoming global personalities?