[Dhaka Correspondent, E-Bangladesh.]
Three Dhaka University teachers charged with breaching the Emergency Powers Rules during the August 2007 campus protests were freed from jail Tuesday on a presidential clemency. No application was filed for the mercy. DUTA president Sadrul Amin, general secretary Anwar Hossain, Social Sciences dean Harun-or-Rashid, were released after the president suo moto remitted the sentences they were given hours before. Applied Physics and Electronics department chair, Neem Chandra Bhowmick, was released after being acquitted of the charges in two cases over the campus protests of August 21 and 22, 2007. Eleven students, one of whom is still detained in jail, were also acquitted of the charges. Eight students, detained in jail, however, were not released Tuesday although they were either acquitted of the charges along with the teachers or the cases they faced were supposed to be withdrawn.
Dhaka University teachers and students have rejected the verdicts: one that jailed three teachers for two years Tuesday in a case concerning the protests of August 22, 2007 and one that jailed four students for two years Monday in a case concerning the protests of August 21. They vowed to continue with their protests until the withdrawal of all the cases filed across the country over the campus protests and subsequent flare-up and the unconditional release of all the students detained in this connection.
Dhaka University teachers will hold a solidarity rally Wednesday on the campus. Students have called for a boycott of classes for an hour in all educational institutions across the country for Wednesday. Released teachers also rejected the verdicts and said they would continue with protests until the withdrawal of all related cases and unconditional release of the detained students. After their release, they told newsmen that they had told the jail authorities they would not come out of the jail leaving any of their students in jail. They came out of the jail after the authorities assured them that the students could not be released because of some administrative problems and they would be released by Wednesday.
Education adviser, Hossain Zillur Rahman, at a news briefing Tuesday said, “Thirteen cases filed under the Emergency Powers Rules over the campus protests will be withdrawn. But the cases lodged in connection with violence will continue.” The police submitted the final report in the case lodged with the Shahbagh police on August 23, 2007 for the assault of army personnel and recommended relief of the seven detained students — Kazi Zahidul Islam Biplob, Manabendra Dev, Deen Islam Angel, Rafiqul Islam Sujan, Deen Islam, Asaduzzaman and Liton Mahmud — of the charge. Shahbagh police OC, Shahidul Islam, told newsmen that they had submitted the final report of the case to the CMM court and the court accepted the report and ordered the release of the students.
The government Tuesday decided not to prosecute ten other cases related to the campus protests. The education adviser said the government already asked the public prosecutors concerned to take appropriate steps for the withdrawal of the cases. Cases to be withdrawn are Chittagong Hathazari police case filed against 10 on August 26, 2007, Sylhet Kotwali police case filed against a Shahjahalal University of Science and Technology student on August 24, Ashulia police case filed against four on August 21, Ashulia police case filed against 10 on August 21, Savar police case filed against two on August 23, Savar police case lodged against two on August 23, Dhaka Mirpur police case filed against four on August 22, Mirpur police case lodged against four on August 22, Dhaka Kotwali police case lodged against two Jagannath University students on August 22 and Mymensingh Kotwali police case lodged against 15 students on August 23.
The government Monday asked public prosecutors concerned to withdraw three cases, one partially. Two cases to be withdrawn in full are the one lodged with the Shahbagh police in Dhaka on August 24, 2007 for vandalism on the campus and the other filed by the Rajshahi University authorities with the Motihar police on August 22, 2007 against 10 students for vandalism on the campus during the protests. The government decided not to prosecute 18 out of the 25 students named on the charge sheet in the case filed with the Shahbagh police on August 23 for setting fire to a military vehicle during the August 21 demonstrations at Shahbagh in Dhaka.
According to the handout, released Monday, the government will continue with the prosecution of seven other students in the case — mass communications second-year student Deen Islam Angel, Muhsin Hall resident Rafiqul Islam Sujan, master’s student of mathematics Asaduzzaman, also resident of Ekushey Hall, Kazi Zahidul Islam Biplob, Deen Islam, Rashedul Habib and Abdul Hasan. Of them, Biplob, Angel, Deen Islam, Sujan, and Asaduzzaman are now detained in jail.
Yet 39 more cases lodged with different police stations across the country, mostly in Dhaka, in connection with the campus protests are still pending and no decision on the withdrawal of the cases has yet been made. The education adviser said the cases filed on allegation of violence would continue.
The August campus protests flared off the assault of some students by some army men at the university playground during a football match between two departments on August 20, 2007. Two teachers of the university, who went to the place to tackle the situation, were also assaulted by army men from the temporary camp housed at the gymnasium. Students then went out on demonstrations demanding withdrawal of the camp from the campus. The police then attacked the demonstrators in which a number of students and teachers, including then acting vice-chancellor, were injured. The protests flared up elsewhere, including major educational institutions in Dhaka and across the country.
Police filed at least 53 cases against the students and four Dhaka University teachers. Many other cases were filed across the country in connection with the protests in other educational institutions and surroundings.
A Rajshahi court on December 4, 2007 sentenced four Rajshahi University teachers — Professor Moloy Kumar Bhowmik of management, and Professor Selim Reza Newton, Professor Dulal Chandra Biswas and Professor Abdullah Al Mamun of mass communications — to two years’ rigorous imprisonment on charge of violating the Emergency Powers Rule. The speedy trial tribunal in Rajshahi on December 12, 2007 jailed ten Rajshahi University students and an employee for three years each in the case of setting a military vehicle on fire during campus protests. The Rajshahi University teachers were released from jail on December 10, 2007 and the ten students and an employee on January 21 on a presidential clemency although none of them sought for the mercy.
A Dhaka court Monday jailed four Dhaka University students for two years each and acquitted four teachers and 11 students of the charges in the case relating to August 21 campus protests. The president the same day remitted their sentences.
The Dhaka speedy trial court judge, Golam Rabbani, Tuesday convicted the three Dhaka University teachers for two years each and acquitted all the 15 students of the charges in the case concerning the August 22 campus protests against the 19. The convicted teachers, who were acquitted of the charges in a case day before rejected the verdict saying that their acquittal had proved that the case was not based on evidences and the four students should not have been sentenced.