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The impunity that the student and youth organisations affiliated with the ruling Awami League enjoy has created a threatening environment, especially on college and university campuses. The latest victim of such impunity is a student of the University of Dhaka who is about to lose his sight.
The second-year student of disaster management on Tuesday night, as media reported on Saturday, was brutally beaten by the university unit Chhatra League activists to the extent that cornea and orbit of the right are grievously injured as he was punched indiscriminately.
As tragic as the incident is, the student is not the first victim of such unbridled muscle power that the Chhatra League now enjoys. In February 2016, a first-year student in Dhaka University, who was residing at the Salimullah Muslim Hall, died when BCL activists forced him to spend a winter night under the open sky. There are many other similar incidents have been reported without any redress. That BCL atrocities have been unchecked for such a long time amounts to institutionalised impunity.
It is common knowledge now that the halls on university campuses are no longer controlled by the administration. Instead, the seat allotment in residential halls at public universities is controlled by the Chhatra League. It has been reported that first-year students need to join the Chhatra League and participate in its activities to ensure their seat in the hall.
The practice of widespread ragging in Jahangirnagar University residential halls by BCL activists has also been reported. It has been reported in various online news outlets that a first-year student, in his first week on the campus, lost his mental stability as he could not bear the brunt of ragging in the ‘common room.
The legal system too has failed to make a difference in this culture of impunity, as witnessed in the murder trial of JU student Zubaer Ahmed. The convicted murderers are members of the Chhatra League, but in an odd course of events, they manage to stay beyond the purview of the law.
Violence and violations of disciplinary codes take place in plain sight, the perpetrators are known and often identified by the victims, yet no effective steps are taken to dismantle the reign of terror that ruling party student activists have created on the campus. In what follows, it is glaringly evident that university administration and the legal system are endorsing a culture of impunity and tolerating violence of vested quarters.
It is unfortunate that the Chhatra League, abandoning its historic legacy of fighting for the national cause, chose such path of repression and violence and acting as force against general students, more in the line of the notorious NSF of Monem Khan in East Pakistan days. Considering that the political party in power is unwilling to contain the BCL violence, students and public must continue to mobilise against such undemocratic faction active on campuses and reclaim the democratic legacy of student of politics.