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Thursday, October 23, 2008
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Sexual Harassment

Mirpur college students protest ‘fake’ charges against teachers

A section of students of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) College at Mirpur in the capital yesterday staged demonstrations on the campus and in adjacent areas demanding expulsion of some female students of the college for making 'baseless allegations' of sexual harassment by some teachers.

The demonstrators barricaded nearby roads creating severe traffic jam for about three hours around noon and damaged five vehicles. They also attacked journalists injuring two from a private television channel.

The college authorities suspended classes on the day and also for today.

Police however attributed the incident to feuds between two groups of teachers of the college -- one group in favour of the principal and the other against him.

Campus sources said under the banner of 'General Students', several hundred students backed by some teachers took to the streets at about 9:00am and demanded expulsion of those female students who had earlier given interviews to the media about 'sexual harassment' by some teachers. They made 'false allegations' tarnishing the image of their institution, the demonstrators said.

At one stage, the female students concerned came to the campus and were talking to journalists present there. The demonstrators then attacked the newsmen, damaged a camera of ATN Bangla and injured its cameraman and a reporter.

ATN's reporter Moinul Ahsan last night filed a case accusing eight teachers and 20-25 students of the college with Shah Ali Police Station in this connection.

In his case statement, he brought allegations of torturing him and his cameraman, and damaging their camera, police said.

At about 1:00pm, the college authorities announced closure of the institution till today.

Earlier in a related development, a number of students staged demonstration following rumours that the female students, who raised the allegation of sexual harassment, were held inside the principal's office. The students, who were called to the principal's room, were later sent back home under police guard.

Contacted, one of the students, who had made the allegation, said, "Some teachers often used indecent words in classrooms. They also used to touch their bodies on various excuses."

Ashraful Alam, a teacher at the college, said general students have become angry as some female students, influenced by a former teacher, made falls allegations of sexual harassment.

Talking to journalists, Principal Abdul Aziz said an investigation conducted earlier found the allegations of sexual harassment baseless.

Anwar Hossain, DMP deputy commissioner of Mirpur zone, told this correspoindent, " Feuds between two groups of teachers led to the present situation at the college."

"The two groups are influencing the students in favour of or against the principal. Had the principal taken a firm strong stand in this regard, any untoward incident could have been averted."

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