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At least 40 civil society members of Rajshahi yesterday urged President Prof Iajuddin Ahmed to free the 10 Rajshahi University (RU) students convicted of torching a DGFI vehicle last year.

They also urged him to have the charges brought against them dropped.

A Rajshahi court on December 12 acquitted two RU teachers and a RU official of the charge but convicted the 10 students and a RU employee. They were each sentenced to three years' rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk 5,000.

In a written statement, the civil society members said the convicted students, including Abu Sayem, a student of Bhasha O Sanskrit (language and culture) department and the general secretary of RU Udichi unit, were not involved with any anti-social, anti-state or anti-people activities.

All the students had brilliant academic records and were involved with progressive activities of the RU and Rajshahi city, the statement added.

"We believe that the state will benefit by their progressive activities," it said, adding, "The convicted students honoured the court's verdict."

They requested the president to pardon their conviction and punishment in the DGFI vehicle torching case.

The 40 signatories to the statement include Sammilito Sanskritik Jote Rajshahi President Abul Hossain, Rajshahi Protection Movement Council Convener Jamat Khan, Rajshahi Union of Journalist President Hassan Millat, former Rajshahi Union of Journalist president Mustafizur Rahman Khan, Prof Sujit Sarker, Muktijoddha Pathagar President Shafiqur Rahman, freedom fighter Shajahan Ali, Badre Alam, Tanor Degree College Principal Abdul Bari, Udichi Rajshahi unit General Secretary Taj Uddin Biplob, Rajshahi Theatre President Kamar Ullah Sarker and Rajshahi Photo Journalists Association President Abdul Jabid Apu.

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