February 5, 2024
DHAKA – Students and teachers of Jahangirnagar University flew into a fury and staged protests throughout yesterday against the rape of a 19-year-old woman on campus on Saturday night.
At least four members of JU Chhatra League are among those suspected to have raped the woman while confining her husband to a dorm room.
The husband has filed a case under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act against six people with Ashulia Police Station, on charges of raping and abetting the rape, Dhaka District Additional Superintendent of Police Abdullahil Kafi told a press conference yesterday.
Four of them — Mostafizur Rahman, 28, a prime accused; Hasanuzzaman, 26, of the international relations department’s 45th batch; ASM Mostafa Monowar, alias Sagar Siddique, 26, of the same department’s 46th batch; and Sabbir Hasan, 24, of the botany department’s 47th batch — were arrested yesterday.
They were produced before a Dhaka court, which placed them on a three-day remand each.
Another prime accused in the case, Mamunur Rashid Mamun, 44, an outsider and acquaintance of Mostafizur, and abettor Murad Hossain, 22, a JU student, are on the run.
Meanwhile, the university syndicate has identified six JU students, including another student – Shah Poran of the university’s 44th IR batch — to be involved in the incident.
Of the suspects, Mostafizur is the JU BCL’s international affairs secretary, Shah Poran one of its vice-presidents and a former student, Murad an assistant secretary, and Sabbir an executive member.
Meanwhile, around 300 students and teachers of the university held a sit-in from yesterday noon to evening in front of the registrar’s building.
They demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits and justice for the 19-year-old, who was raped in the botanical garden near the university’s Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall. They also demanded the university authorities file a case in this regard.
The protests highlighted the lax security on the 697-acre campus and focused on the students’ safety, and the immediate removal of anyone staying in the dormitories illegally.
Rayhan Rayne, convener of platform “Jahangirnagar Against Corruption” and a professor of the philosophy department, said, “There is an anti-sexual harassment cell at the university. We want the authorities to coordinate with the cell regarding the incident and instruct it to conduct an investigation. The authorities must take responsibility for such incidents on campus.”
Farabi, a student of the anthropology department, said, “All my roommates are terrified after hearing the news. This should not be the image of a university. Where’s the safety we need?”
At night, the students brought out a torch procession.
Around the same time, around 100 JU BCL activists formed a human chain in front of the university’s Shaheed Minar, demanding the punishment to those involved in the incident.
Upon the allegations, the central BCL expelled Mostafizur from the pro-ruling party student organisation.
The JU syndicate suspended the five students it identified and cancelled their certifications following the proctorial body’s primary findings last evening.
It also decided to not issue certificates for Shah Poran, who allegedly instructed the others to help Mostafizur flee the campus.
Meanwhile, the syndicate has decided to file a case over the rape incident and formed a four-member probe committee, who was asked to submit a report in 15 working days.
It also announced a ban on outsiders’ entrance to the university.
Rights body Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation, in a press statement signed by its founding president Sultana Kamal, strongly condemned the rape incident and said such heinous acts by students, including a BCL leader, of an apex university, is a disgrace to the nation.
It urged the authorities concerned to take immediate legal action against the perpetrators and ensure mental, physical and social security to the victim and her family.
The case statement said the victim and her husband knew Mamum, one of the prime accused, as he was a tenant of their old house.
Around 10-12 days ago, he called the victim’s husband saying he had no place to stay and then began living at the couple’s rented house in Bhabanipur area near Zirani Bazar.
On Saturday, Mamun called the victim’s husband around 4:00pm and said Mostafizur arranged a place for him to stay at a JU dormitory and that he would move there. He asked the man to meet him on the campus in this regard.
The husband reached Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall around 6:00pm and there he met Mamun, Mostafizur and Murad in room 317. Mamun then told him to call his wife and bring his (Mamun’s) clothes from home.
When the wife came near the campus around 9:00pm, her husband took her to a tea-stall in front of Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall.
There, Mostafizur and Mamun told the husband to go inside the hall with Murad with Mamun’s clothes.
Once in the room, Murad slapped him, took away his mobile phone and confined him there for about an hour, said the case documents.
An hour later, Mostafizur and Mamun came back and told him his wife was sent home. They returned his and his wife’s mobile phones.
After being released, he found his wife near the tea-stall, who told him that Mostafizur and Mamun forced her to the botanical garden and raped her.
In the case statement, it was alleged that Sabbir, Sagar and Hasanuzzaman helped Mostafizur flee.
Additional SP Abdullahil Kafi at the briefing said the three students were arrested from the campus, while prime accused, Mostafizur, was arrested from Savar.
Drives were underway to arrest Mamun and Murad, he added.
(Our JU and Savar correspondents contributed to the report.)