The Business Standard wanted to look into the sociography of the suspected killers of Buet student Abrar Fahad. These suspected killers were his fellow students, they all must have been brilliant or otherwise they would not have got the chance in the premier engineering university. But then why did they suddenly become like this? How were they before they got admission in the university? We went to their villages and dug up their past. What we found is quite shocking.
Well-mannered Anik grew up under strict parenting
Anik Sarker, one of the people arrested over the horrific Abrar Fahad murder, was known as a calm and gifted boy since childhood.
His family and neighbours say he was always well mannered, and used to spend most of his time studying.
The fact that the 22-year-old man was pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), speaks of his academic aptitude. Buet is known as one of the country's finest engineering institutions, and studying there is a matter of academic and social prestige. Many of its alumni go for further education abroad, especially to the United States and Canada.
Anik comes from an ordinary family in Baraikuri village under Rajshahi's Mohonpur upazila.
His father Anwar Hossain Sarker is a well-off businessman and his mother Shahida Begum is a homemaker. He grew up under strict parenting.
Anik completed his secondary education at Mohonpur Government High School before going to Dhaka to study at Notre Dame College, another prestigious educational institution highly admired across the country.
Anik got into Buet after completing his higher secondary education.
His family has a long history of affiliation with the ruling Awami League. His paternal uncle, Belal Hossain, is the vice president of Jubo League's Rajshahi district unit.
His maternal uncle, Al Momin Shah Gabru, is the chairman of Bakshimoil union and also the general secretary of Jubo League's Mohonpur upazila unit.
Anik's involvement in student politics began when he became the secretary of information and research affairs of Chhatra League's Buet unit. However, he was not active in the student organisation's upazila unit back home.
His elder brother, Sohel Sarker, told The Business Standard that Anik has been a sports enthusiast since childhood.
"He not only studied hard, he also played a lot. He is involved with the safety club at Buet. He lived with me in Dhaka before he became a boarder at Sher-E-Bangla Hall," he said.
"I accompanied him to the university on the day of the entrance test. He comes home on vacations. He even came last Eid. He talks to me and our parents often," he added.
Sohel was aware of Anik's involvement in politics. But he said his brother was forced to join politics by senior students at Buet.
His family even asked him not to get into politics.
"He might have got involved because of an unexpected situation, but intoxication is not his thing. This is a rumour. Nonetheless, we will now have to accept whatever the final verdict is," Sohel said.
When asked about his brother's ambition in life, Sohel said: "We two are very different. We never discussed that."
When asked, he refused to say whether Anik relied on the family for financial support. He did not even want to say whether his brother sent money to the family.
Anik's maternal uncle Momin said his sister used to stay up all night to supervise the studies of both brothers.
"I never saw Anik staying out after sunset. I did not even know that he was involved in politics. At this point, we can only ask for justice," he said.
However, Momin's description of the frequency of Anik's home visits differed from that of Sohel's. He said his nephew rarely came home.
"It has been more than six months since I last met him. Anik used to travel alone to and from Dhaka," Momin said.
He also claimed that Anik's parents would send him money every month.
Mohonpur upazila Chhatra League President Abdur Razzak told The Business Standard that Anik does not hold any position in the upazila unit.
"However, he would discuss local politics during his visits here," Razzak said.
The politics that changed Zion's life
Meftahul Islam Zion is the second of three siblings in the family. His father is a grocer. Zion did well in studies since childhood, and his parents dreamed of him becoming an engineer.
After passing the SSC from a local school, Boro Mirzapur Government Primary School, he got admission in Notre Dame College in 2013, and later in the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet). He was a student in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the university.
Zion's father used to pay for his education. He even bought him a motorcycle six months ago.
Everyone in the neighbourhood knew him as a polite boy, however, some changes in his behaviour became evident after he joined Buet. Five to six month ago his family learnt that he had become involved in politics. Zion was the Bangladesh Chhatra League sports secretary (Buet unit).
Zion is from Shothibari Dhalarpara village in Durgapur union under Mithapukur upazila in Rangpur. His elder brother Shohag, a doctor from Rangpur Medical College, works as a physician at the Community Medical College. His younger sister Zerin is a student of class IX at Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College.
When asked about Zion, his uncle Selim said he was polite, composed and a good student from childhood. After joining Buet, he used to come home for 8-10 days whenever he had a vacation.
"Five to six months ago, we heard that he had become involved with the Bangladesh Chhatra League. Since then, we noticed some changes in him," he added.
"Zion was polite since his childhood. He rarely came out of the home. We do not have any idea what he did after he got involved in politics," said Hazifur Rahman, a neighbour.
"He used to come to my shop whenever he came home from Dhaka, but he did not stay long. He left as soon as he finished his tea," a tea stall vendor Abdul Hakim said.
These and other local people said that Zion's family live a simple life, and that his father is not directly involved in politics.
Harendranath Saha, the headmaster of Shathibari High School, said, "Sefayetul Islam Zion passed SSC and HSC with CGPA 5. His teachers knew him as a good student and a polite child. We have never noticed any rowdy attitude in him. But we don't know what he did after he joined Buet."
Saidur Rahman, chairman of Durgapur union, said, "Zion's father once supported the Jatiya Party. Later, he had an affinity with local Awami League activists.
Though he did not hold any position in the party, he used to attend the Awami League's political activities."
He also said that he had heard of Zion's involvement in Abrar's murder, and that Zion should be punished if he is found guilty.
Zion's name came to the limelight after he was arrested as a suspect in the Abrar Fahad murder. Abrar, a second-year student of Buet, was mercilessly beaten to death allegedly by some leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League on October 6.
Law enforcing agencies have arrested many of the people charged, and have seized some local weapons and drugs as well.
Monir's involvement with Chhatra League was not a secret
Mohammad Moniruzzaman Monir, one of the prime suspects in the Abrar Fahad murder case, was a pride of Bhagirpara village in Dinajpur.
Monir, a third year student of the Water Resources Engineering (WRE) Department of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), was known in his area as a good student.
On October 7, Monir along with several leaders and activists of the Buet unit of Chhatra League allegedly beat Abrar, a second-year student of electrical and electronic engineering at the university, to death.
"Monir was a gifted student in his school days and got GPA-5 in his Secondary School Certificate exam in 2014," said Rafiqul Islam, Monir's headmaster at Dinajpur Government School.
A tale of hardship
"I used to send him about Tk5,000 every month for his education. He used to tutor students for his other expenses," said Monir's father Mahatab Ali, assistant teacher at the local Amrakanon High school.
"I give tuition after school to manage the educational expenses of my daughter and son," said Mahatab, who is also the general secretary of Ward No 1 of Mohonpur union.
He said, "Sometimes Monir also sent us some of the money he earned from tuition".
With a heavy heart Monir's mother Eliza Begum said, "We sent him money when was living in hardship. It is better to die than face the reality of his involvement in the murder."
Monir, a lonely boy at the village
Monir's neighbours at the village said that whenever he used to come to the village, he would stay at home most of the time, and he did not have friends.
He used to play in the field with his juniors in the afternoons, said the neighbours.
Monir never visited the local market when he used to come to the village," said Shukur Ali, the owner of the Sathi Hotel at Bhullirhat Bazar in Birganj upazila.
"Everyone in the village knew that Monir was a talented student studying in Dhaka, no one interacted with him," said Sirajul Islam, a shop owner in the market.
From the sixth grade, Monir has been studying outside the village, and was only seen in the village during the holidays, he added.
Family and friends knew his involvement with Chhatra League
On a visit to Bhagirpara village, our correspondent found that many local people know that Monir's name is connected to the murder of Abrar Fahad at Buet's Shere-E-Bangla Hall.
They said Monir might have got involved in Chhatra League politics after going to the university.
Monir's father admitted that his son was involved in Chhatra League politics at Buet.
He said, "Monir told me that he had been made the literature secretary of Chhatra League's Buet unit."
Two of Monir's school friends, seeking anonymity, said, "Monir used to meet us on his way to Dhaka. Some of us knew that he was a member of the Buet unit of the Chhatra league."
The friends added that they used to visit the Buet campus when they went to Dhaka, and that Monir's involvement with the Chhatra League was not a secret in the university.
However, they said they could not believe that Monir was involved in the Abrar murder.
The officer-in-charge of Birganj Police Station refused to talk on the issue.
Dinajpur Additional Police Super (Crime) could not be reached over the phone to talk on this issue.
Robin's family approves of politics, claims he has been victimised
The family of Mehedi Hasan Robin, one of the people charged in the horrifying Abrar Fahad murder case, is not against his involvement in politics.
They were not worried that his political involvement would lead to any unfortunate incident.
In fact, they thought political affiliation would make it easy for the young man to get a good job after completing studies. Robin studies chemical engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
His father, Maksud Ali, himself is a politician in Rajshahi's Katakhali municipality. He is an assistant teacher at Bharuapara High School in Kapasia village, and the joint general secretary of ward 1 of the Awami League's Katakhali unit.
Maksud told The Business Standard that his son's political involvement is not a negative thing.
"I myself am engaged in politics and my son is too. Our ministers and lawmakers also got involved in politics when they were young. That is how they reached the position they are in today," he said.
However, the father believes that his son did not have a hand in Abrar's killing, and that the investigation would prove Robin's innocence.
"I hope my son will come back to lead a normal life once the probe is complete," said Maksud.
One of Robin's sister-in-laws said he is a victim of a conspiracy and there is no way he was involved in the killing of a fellow pupil.
"People get involved in the politics of the ruling party to get benefits. It is hard to get a job even when having educational qualifications. But one can get a job through political connections," she told The Business Standard.
Robin, 22, is the only son of Maksud Ali and Rashida Begum. His family calls him Shanto.
Shanto means calm in English and the family said the name aptly describes his key trait – calmness. Local people know him as a polite boy who loves to study and watch cricket on television for recreation.
They said there was nothing suspicious in his character. They never even saw him playing or gossiping with others.
He was friendly with everyone when he would come home on vacation. He would always talk warmly with people.
The people in the village were quite surprised to learn that he is involved in student politics. Local Chhatra League members said they were not aware of his political involvement.
Maksud said he was strict about his son's studies. He enrolled Robin at the school where he teaches to keep an eye on his son.
Robin got scholarships in the talent pool category both in fifth and eighth grades.
The father thought his son would become a doctor to serve the people, but Robin had a different ambition. He wanted to be an engineer and his father allowed him to pursue that goal.
"I would send him money every month, but he also earned as a private tutor in Dhaka," Maksud said.
Minhazul Islam, a student of Rajshahi College, is Robin's schoolmate and lives in the same village. They got into different schools after finishing primary education together.
"In school, Robin was polite and well- mannered. He spent a lot of time studying. He was not boastful at all after getting into Buet," Minhazul recalled.
"Robin never told me that he was involved in Chhatra League politics at Buet.
How can such a good student become unruly after enrolling at such a prestigious institution?"
Minhazul said politicians would have to take responsibility for the brutal killing of Abrar.
"What is it in Buet that made Robin so rowdy?" he questioned.
Robin's father said he talked to his son on October 5, two days before Abrar was beaten to death.
Robin went home to spend a seven-day vacation with his family during the last Eid. He was supposed to go home again to spend the Durga Puja vacation but did not.