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Attack on Dr. Md. Zafar Iqbal; a wake-up call for the government
Author and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology computer science and engineering professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was stabbed by an unknown youth causing serious injury in the back of the head on the campus Saturday afternoon.
He came under the attack at about 5-00pm when he was inspecting the projects displayed in a robotic competition at Muktamancha on the campus as part of a two-day festival of the university’s electrical and electronics engineering students.
Immediately after the attack, Zafar had been admitted to Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital in a serious condition.
The incident took place merely a day after Zafar made a critical comment against the students who were launching a movement for reducing punishment of two students expelled from the university on charge of ragging six freshers. At that time, a youth stabbed the Zafar when he was inspecting the projects of the robotic competitors at Muktamancha.
The motive behind the attack is still unknown. A bearded youth, aged around 25, was caught red handed after he attacked Prof Iqbal around 5:30pm.
Students gave the attacker a good beating, leaving him unconscious, said Munadir Islam, assistant commissioner (Jalalabad) of Sylhet Metropolitan Police.
Sources said the youth was kept at the Osmani hospital under tight security.
Prof Iqbal, head of Electronic and Electrical Engineering department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), is a teacher and an educationalist recognised by students of all ages across the country. A noted writer, he is popular among kids especially for his science fiction novels.
Prof Iqbal had to have 27 stitches and was given two bags of blood at the hospital, said Brig Gen Mahbubul Haque, director of the Sylhet hospital.
“We have conducted an operation on Prof Iqbal and it was successful. But he has been sent to Dhaka for better treatment and evaluation,” he added.
An air ambulance left Sylhet for the capital at 9:50pm following directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Later Dr. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was admitted to Dhaka CMH.
Visiting Zafar Iqbal at the Sylhet hospital, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said since the professor had police protection on campus, it is the police who have to take responsibility and find the reason behind it.
The attack triggered a firestorm of public outrage and condemnation with hundreds of people taking to streets in Sylhet, Dhaka and elsewhere. The protestors termed it as an attack on free speech.
The prime minister strongly condemned the attack and directed law enforcers to track down the culprits involved in the attack and bring them to book. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, leader of the opposition in parliament Begum Rowshan Ershad and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Acting Ameer Professor Mijibur Rahman also condemned this brutal attack.
Eminent citizens also expressed anger and said the incident was a “wake-up call” for the government.
"This attack on Prof Zafar Iqbal is a wake-up call for the government," said Prof Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, a renowned academic, author and critic.
The attack shows how insecure the teachers are even at their educational institutions, he said. "A teacher like Prof Zafar Iqbal is not secured even on his campus.”
Prof Emeritus Anisuzzaman said the government should leave no stone unturned to identify the masterminds. He also hoped that exemplary punishment will be given to the culprit involved in the heinous crime.
Noted human rights activist Sultana Kamal said, "I am so shocked and outraged that I have no words to condemn the incident."
She said it's a very serious message for the government.
They all hoped Prof Iqbal will get well soon and will return back to his normal work.