Teachers and students blame growing intolerance and lack of ethics among student bodies and killers going unpunished for the rising body count.
“I have been working here for 40 years, and have not seen anyone being punished for a student’s murder,” university refistrar Entajul Haque told bdnews24.com.
Student leaders admit that most of deaths had been caused by turf wars between student unions owing allegiance to rival political parties.
The past five years have been particularly gruesome with six students being killed in the university.
In the last 32 years, seven Bangladesh Chhatra league activists, 15 Bangladesh Chhatra Shibir activists, four Bangladesh Chhatra Dal activists, two Bangladesh Chhatra Moitri activists and one Bangladesh Students Union activist have been killed in political violence.
BCL Suhrawardy Hall General Secretary Rustam Ali Akhand was shot dead on Friday by unknown assailants, adding to a long and tragic list.
BCL leaders claim Shibir is behind the murder. Shibir, however, denies the charge, saying Rustam was a victim of the BCL’s internal feud.
RU’s victims of violence
The list is long and disturbing, testifying to how students have often become victims of fickle causes.
Rustam Ali Akhand was the latest casualty but many others had fallen before him – most of them victims of ghastly brutality.
In Nov 2013, BCL’s Shah Makhdum Hall President Abduallh Al Mamun was killed in an alleged Shibir attack in his hometown, Gaibandha.
In July 2012, BCL activist Abdullah Al Hasan Sohel reportedly fell to a factional fight within the organisation.
Members of a rival faction threw BCL activist Nasrullah Nasim from the first floor of Shah Makhdum Hall, as temper flew in a petty argument over programmes of the National Mourning Day in 2010.
He died nine days later while being treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
That very year, on Feb 8, BCL activist Faruk Hossain was killed, allegedly by Shibir men.
In Mar 2009, Shibir’s university unit General Secretary Sharifuzzaman Nomani died in a three-way clash among BCL, Shibir and local businessmen.
In Jan 2004, Shibir activist Saifuddin was killed by BCD members.
In Feb 1996, Shibir activists hacked to death Amanullah Aman, the then general secretary of the university unit of Jatiyatabadi Samajik Shangskritik Shangathan, the cultural wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Chhatra Moitri leader Debshish Bhattacharya Rupom was dragged down from a bus and done to death in broad daylight by Shibir activists in Feb 1995.
Zubair Hossain Rimu, another Moitri leader, was killed by Shibir in 1993.
BCD activists Bishwajit and Notun were killed during the Shibir’s attempt to capture Suhrawardy Hall in Feb 1993.
BSU activist Tapan, who was injured in that fight, later died in a hospital.
In 1992, JSD Chhatra League activist Yasir Arafat was shot dead during a clash with Shibir.
Shibir activist Shafiqul Islam died in a clash on the campus in April 1989.
In November 1988, Shibir activist Aslam Hossain was killed in a clash. Another Shibir activist Asgar Ali was killed in a clash that followed Aslam’s death.
In March 1982, four Shibir members and BCL leader Mir Moshtaq Elahi was killed in a clash between Shibir and the other student groups on the campus.
In a clash with the Chhatra Shangram Parishad in 1990, Shibir activist Khalilur Rahman was killed; in 1992 Azibor Rahman, in 1993 Mohammad Yahia; and in 1995 Ismail Hossain were killed.
How much longer must the list become before names stop getting added?
Parents want an end to violence
“I sent my son to the university for higher education,” said Hasna Begum, mother of Faruk Hossain, believed to have been killed by Shibir in 2010.
Murdered BCL leader Nasirullah Nasim’s father Moslem Uddin says the vitiated air of student politics was the biggest impediment to a proper learning environment.
Student leaders want no more deaths
BCL General Secretary Towhid Al Tuhin told bdnews24.com he believed student politics had suffered a moral degeneration because of a mindless pursuit of power.
“This is the main reason behind the frequent clashes among student organisations and internal conflicts,” he said.
“We want a healthy environment,” he said.
Arafat Reza Ashik, convener of the BCD university unit, said every time a political party comes to power, its affiliate student body makes a frantic bid to capture educational institutions.
“Their internal factions, too, fight for dominance, making student politics all the more ugly,” he said.
BSU President Ayatullah Khomeini blames the persistence of violence on a callous university and police administration showing no guts to punish the killers.
Shibir Human Resource Secretary Ziauddin Bablu said, “We don’t believe in the politics of arms. For a healthy political environment, all student bodies on the campus must learn to coexist and practice meaningful politics.”
Kazi Zahidur Rahman, an associate professor at the university’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, attributed the frenzy to moral and political degeneration.
“Students taking part in politics dream of becoming millionaires overnight – an illusion that should not be the source of inspiration,” he added.
Vice Chancellor Mizanuddin said when students join the university they imagine that whatever they do is right.
“Student politics has run into an area of darkness. Students should be in politics with the dream of leading the nation,” he said.