JS body to probe DU unrest during emergency Asks for all probe reports, documents; may summon intelligence officials

Awaiting reader response. LEAVE COMMENT Name: Email: Comment: Comment Policy A parliamentary panel yesterday decided to probe the violence involving some army personnel and students on Dhaka University campus in August 2007. The standing committee on the education ministry took the decision at a meeting presided by its Chairman Rashed Khan Menon. It asked the home ministry for a dossier of intelligence reports on the DU unrest that broke out on August 20 and went on for a couple of days during the state of emergency. Condemning military actions against teachers and students at that time, the committee asked the home ministry to turn in a full report of the judicial enquiry by retired judge Habibur Rahman. Briefing newsmen at the Jatiya Sangsad media centre, Menon, also Workers Party president, said they would interview the teachers and students who underwent military brutality. “If necessary, intelligence officials involved in the violence will be summoned before the committee,” he said. Incensed at beatings of three students, thousands of DU students fought pitched battles with police on August 20. They staged fierce demonstrations for withdrawal of the on-campus army camp and an apology from the troops. It all began when some army men beat up three students and humiliated a teacher over a trivial matter during a soccer match on the university gymnasium ground. With violence spreading to educational institutions in the capital and elsewhere, the then caretaker government imposed a curfew in the divisional cities and shut down the universities and colleges there on August 22. Security personnel on August 24 picked up five teachers–two from DU and three from Rajshahi University–and took them to unspecified places for interrogation. Earlier on August 21 , the administration ordered withdrawal of the army camp from the DU campus, and a judicial probe into the violence that left over 250 people, mostly students, injured in two days. The government pledged that actions would be taken against those responsible for the incidents. At the briefing yesterday, Menon said they were surprised to know that the education ministry has no documents except that of teachers’ convictions and exemption of sentences. He said since their convictions stand, the teachers and students have difficulty getting visas. Some had already been denied visas. The trial was staged-managed, and the real culprits got off scot-free, Menon observed. Replying to a query, he said they would decide on the next course of action after examining available documents and the inquiry report and interviewing teachers and students. He said they want to let people know actually what had happened that day on the gymnasium ground that also housed the army camp. Menon said teachers and students of DU and other universities had been subjected to excruciating torture by the military intelligence officials. Some have been left to live with disabilities caused by the torture, he continued. “Such barbarism is rare to find in last 22 years.” He said a number of teachers have appealed to the parliamentary standing committee to investigate the events afresh. He said the committee attaches great importance to the teachers’ appeal. “We want to settle the matter once and for all to prevent repeat of such incidents. And in doing so, we will consider the legal, moral and ethical aspects of the issue.” At its next meeting, the committee will fix the dates for interviewing the teachers and students. On a different note, Menon said a four-member sub- committee headed by Shah Alam has been assigned to probe allegations of corruption in examination inspection and activities of the education ministry’s audit department. The committee has been asked to report back in two months. The chairman said the National Curriculum and Textbook Board believes it will be able to complete printing of 21 crore textbooks for the next academic session in time. Committee members Kazi Faruq Kader, Biren Shikdar and Shah Alam were present at the press briefing.

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