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Anxiety runs high between two groups of pro-AL HSTU teachers
The alleged assault of four teachers of Hajee Danesh Science and Technology University (HSTU) in Dinajpur last week laid bare fresh tensions that could pose challenges for the authorities in upcoming admission tests.
The incident of the assault reportedly took place during a general meeting of pro-Awami League teachers’ platform Progotishil Shikhok Forum on Thursday (February 16).
A tense situation was prevailing on the campus after the news of the conflict spread across the university, according to several students.
While talking to UNB, a number of students and teachers feared that the situation could escalate into something more serious and disrupt the regular academic activities, including the upcoming admission tests procedures.
According to the witnesses, three university staff members-- driver Jahangir, section officer Kajol and TI cell officer Khokon—stormed into the meeting room around 3:30pm when two factions of the pro-ruling party teachers’ platform engaged in an altercation over an internal issue and assaulted the teachers.
Professor Torikul Islam of Horticulture Department, who fell victim to the reported attack, told UNB: “Actually the conflict stemmed from the appointment of our new Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr. Abul Kashem. Our former VC Professor Md. Ruhul Amin, also the president of Progotishil Shikhok Forum, started non-cooperation with the present VC from the very beginning as he [Prof. Amin] was a candidate for the position.
“However, some teachers from our platform decided to extend their all-out support to the new VC for the sake of protecting the interest of the institution. Prof. Amin didn’t like our approach and called the meeting to insult the teachers who are cooperating with Prof. Kashem.”
“The agenda of Thursday’s meeting was The Overall Situation of the University. But, Prof. Amin started making extremely disrespectful remarks about the teachers, triggering an altercation between the supporters of Prof. Amin and the new VC. At one stage, four teachers were assaulted,” added Prof. Torikul.
Assistant Professor Dipak Kumar Sarker of English Department, another target of the reported attack, said: “During the altercation, Jahangir, the driver of the former VC, Kajol, and Khokon entered the meeting room all on a sudden and went on a rampage. I immediately left the place in order to avert any untoward situation.”
“However, the attackers followed me out of the meeting room and grabbed me by the collar and tried to force me to the ground. They assaulted Assistant Professors Ziaul Hasan and Shaiful Islam in a similar manner,” Dipak told the UNB.
Despite making several attempts, UNB could not reach to Ziaul Hasan and Shaiful Islam over mobile phone.
Asked whether any police complaint was made in connection to the incident, Dipak said: “We are yet to make any police complaint. We just informed our VC sir of the situation and sought immediate action against the offenders. He assured us that he would look into the matter and asked us to continue our regular activities, considering the admission tests.
He added, “We will fix next course of action once the official response from the VC comes.”
When contacted, the HSTU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr. Abul Kashem told UNB: “I have heard about the attack but no official report has yet been filed in this regard. I will take proper action after receiving the written complaint.
“I also have requested the teachers to continue their regular activities as such unrest could disrupt the intake examinations procedures.”
Terming the attack a shameful incident, Professor Mijanur Rahman of Soil Science Department, who was present during the incident, expressed the opinion that the attackers must be receiving support from powerful and influential persons of the institutions.
The assaulted teachers alleged that the attack was preplanned and former VC Prof. Amin, also the dean of Faculty of Engineering, was behind it.
Denying the allegations, Prof. Amin said: “A vested quarter is trying to tarnish my image by circulating false information. I must admit that two groups of teachers locked in a quarrel over some internal issues. But, no such incident of attack took place.”
UNB tried several times to reach the alleged attackers, however, failed to collect their versions over the allegations.
Wishing anonymity, a number of HSTU teachers made allegations of gross irregularities against the former VC.
While investigating the allegations against Prof. Amin, UNB discovered that he is one of the accused in the murder case of two Chhatra League members who were killed during a factional clash on the university campus in 2015.
Mahmudul Hasan Milton, 26, a master's final-year student, and Md Zakaria, 22, a BBA second-year student were stabbed during a clash that ensued after a cultural programme marking Pahela Baishakh.
Later, two cases were filed in this connection, one with Dinajpur Kotwali police station and another with a district court.
Redwanur Rahim, Officer in Charge, Dinajpur Kotwali police station, said he was not appointed as the OC when the killing took place. He, however, said that according to the case statement, the victims were attacked when power connection to the auditorium was snapped from outside. So, the police could not find out the actual killers and filed a murder case with the police station against unnamed persons.
“However, the family members of the students filed another case with a district court accusing Prof. Amin and 41 others. The cases are still under investigation,” the OC said.
Prof Ruhul Amin was appointed as the acting VC of the HSTU on April 22, 2007, following the removal of previous VC Mosharraf Hossain Miah. He was replaced by Prof Md Afzal Hossain in 2008.
Later, Prof Amin was again appointed to the post of VC after the tenure of Prof Afzal. According to the university resolution, no one can serve as VC more than two terms.
Seeking anonymity, some teachers claimed that Prof Amin this time again applied for the post, but was rejected because of the murder case filed against him.