Killing of Abrar Fahad, a second-year student of electrical and electronic engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has been a major concern and issue till he was beaten to death on October 7 by allegedly Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League’s student wing, leaders and activists at BUET’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall. He was a promising soul and lost his life for expressing his own opinions freely.
Abrar was brutally beaten to death over accusing him to be linked with Chhatra Shibir, student wing of anti-Bangladesh political party Jamaat-e-Islami. It was never sure that he was anyhow related to Shibir and there is even no question of justifying his murder over the ground of Abrar being a Shibir activist.
The students throughout the country burst into angry protests and demanded justice for Abrar. BUET was facing huge chaos and cancellation of classes and tests until few demands of the students were met. All these protests ended after an oath taking ceremony on October 16 and the oath, in reality, reflected the promise which the students and teachers of every educational institute should make to protect the rights of every student.
BUET students swore to be vocal against repression in the campus. They also vowed to eradicate terrorism and communalism through combined effort. Several hundred students of the BUET took a mass oath to be vocal against the ongoing repression, which is the scenario of not only BUET but also of almost all the educational institute of Bangladesh. They vowed that they would not let any more loss of lives and no innocent student would be the victim of torture in the name of ragging. Most importantly, they swore to ensure it all together.
Vice Chancellor of BUET, acting director of Directorate of Student’s Welfare (DSW) and provosts of all the eight halls took the oath along with the students. The teachers were also present during the oath taking but they did not take part in the oath and instead were sitting in the front rows of the auditorium during the oath.
May be they did not find it their responsibility to abolish terrorism and communalism from the campus and rather will prefer to observe such incidents from the sidelines. Though many might not agree and the teachers might have their own logic but from a citizen’s viewpoint, lack of participation of the teachers in the oath taking seemed like a decay in their ethics and moral. Before taking the oath, the teachers and students observed a one-minute silence remembering Abrar Fahad.
The oath-taking program was conducted following days of protest by BUET students demanding justice for their mate Abrar Fahad. They were satisfied with the administration for complying with most of their demands and though their movements were called off with the oath taking, they also assured to follow the implementation of their 10-point demands. However, they refused to attend any academic activities till the suspects of Abrar murders are expelled from the university though the authority already suspended the accused and will wait for finding them guilty before permanently cancelling the BUET studentship. On October 11, the vice chancellor also announced a ban on student politics on the campus.
Most students want a peaceful atmosphere on campus to pursue their studies and this unusual event demonstrates their intention all too plainly. The most talented students from all around the country get admitted in BUET every year. Any sort of violence, terrorism, ragging and communalism here hence is of utmost disturbance. Hopefully the minute’s silence observed during the oath taking function should ring loudly in the ears of university authorities to pay heed to the voice of ordinary students. It now falls upon the administration to take a strong stance.
Students come to this elite educational institution to not only learn but also to mingle in a secure environment that tolerates open expression in a free and unregulated atmosphere. This free opinion or expression does not mean anti-sovereignty, anti-nation, anti-religion or anti-ethnicity remarks. It must be for the welfare of the country or for the people.
We must not forget the legacy of student politics in our country. The students have always raised their voice for democracy and against autocracy. At every crucial stage of our history, whether it was against Pakistani oppression or during the war of liberation, students have always been at the forefront of just movements.
This time they have raised their voices against all kinds of violence and immoderation. The truth cannot be suppressed no matter what the circumstances are ultimately and all these movements were to ensure a free environment where even if not accurate or wise, anyone can express his opinion without any fear. The university administration hence must put the welfare of its students before and above all other external pressures.
The oath of BUET students portrayed the intent to stand for the rights of all students. Ensuring a safe environment is very vital to establish the rights of any student irrespective of their opinions, political background and other demographic factors. This oath should not be limited to mere words rather if it is carried out by the students and the authority, then it will become another great achievement of student politics as well as undaunted humanity.
We may argue that, the oath was not a part of student politics as it was already banned at BUET. But that is not true. Student politics is all about fighting for protecting the interests of the students and to ensure their welfare. Today, the student politics have become so party-based and benefit-oriented that we have forgotten the real face of student politics. Politics itself is to conserve the interest of the mass. It should be a noble work. But unfortunately, most of the Bangladeshi people today use the word ‘politics’ in a negative manner due to the involvement of ill and corrupt people in this arena.
Our every national achievement is the result of politics – may it be student, national, regional or global politics. We cannot deny the impact of both sides of politics – positive and negative in our lives. It is our duty to utilize politics as a great source of power to protect the rights and welfare of everyone. If our politicians or anyone involved with politics can ensure that, then the progress of Bangladesh cannot be stopped.
The truth is everyone attached to politics today in Bangladesh only focuses on to bring in benefits for selves. The welfare of the people is not a concern. When it comes to the student politics, these young brats are being used by the politicians as muscles and power. Few decades back, we used to find local goons working for the politicians as muscles but today the students have taken that place. With widespread use of drugs, the youth to a great extent lost their moral and conscience which often leads them to get engaged in barbaric inhuman acts. The students today have become the fear of the mass. But this is not student politics.
Even today, if there is any movement or protest, the students remain in the front row because they are in reality the driving force of every movement. From the British period, students remained the main force behind achieving any political achievement. Bangladesh holds glorious history of student politics as we now speak in Bengali, move in free air and can express our independent opinion without any fear. Bangladesh was founded through the unique leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and by the force of the students. Today’s party-based politics cannot darken the legacy of student politics in our country and the oath of the BUET students should be the first step of bringing back the glory.
The oath of BUET students shows us a ray of hope as it was a great example of patriotism and humanity. Protecting the campuses from terrorism, communalism, violence and repression should be the priority of all students today and the oath focused exactly on that point. More than the students, the teachers were required to take that oath as corrupt souls of teachers today actually contributing in depletion of conscience among the students. But regretfully, the teachers, who fight for their own benefits even in illegal ways keeping the fate of the innocent students at stake and being in the noble profession, remained away from taking that oath. This obviously makes us slightly doubtful about the implementation of the oath in the campus.
From the very first day of our school, we take oaths. The civil service officials, the lawyers, the judges, the members of parliaments, the law enforcers, the doctors and most other people from different professions take oaths in written or oral form. But unfortunately they do not carry out their oaths. If we could have stick to the promises we have made, our country could have been the most honoured in the world. It is a matter of sorrow that, if anyone tries to stick to his oaths, then he becomes an alien today.
We heartily hope, the BUET students will be successful in carrying out the oath they have taken. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has started a fight alone against terrorism, drugs and corruption as she knows well that without eliminating these enemies, despite huge development works, Bangladesh cannot become the ‘Golden Bengal’, which her father, founder of this nation Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of. She is facing great obstacles with the purification drive as it started from her own party-a very drastic move indeed and portraying a great possibility of Bangladesh’s bright future. We hope the oath at BUET becomes the pioneer in this drive of change. It is as we need to start from somewhere.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), editor of Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)