The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) is going to take initiatives to bring the campus under strict surveillance by using the latest technology, two years after the much-talked-about Abrar Fahad murder.
The second-year student of the electrical and electronics engineering (EEE) department of the university was beaten to death by fellow students, all activists of the Chhatra League, at Sher-e-Bangla Hall on 7 October 2019.
With the aim of preventing similar incidents in future and ensuring security for all on the campus, the authorities will set up access control and emergency alarm systems, provide unified smart identification cards to students, and bring all important spaces under CCTV monitoring.
To this end, the Buet authorities have already drafted a policy and framed some projects.
"We are thinking of a safe campus where students can concentrate on their studies without any disturbance," said Professor Md Rubaiyat Hossain Mondal, director of the Institute of Information and Communication Technology at the university.
As coordinator of these projects, he is hopeful about tackling any untoward incident through such steps.
"We will start work soon, after getting the budget," he told The Business Standard, adding that the fund will be available immediately.
Founded in 1962, Buet is the pioneer university of engineering education in Bangladesh. It currently has around 10,000 students in 18 departments under five faculties.
According to the draft policy, an alarm control system will be set up by the next three months and an access control system by 6 months, the professor hopes.
Initially, the systems will be applied in all the 8 residential halls and academic buildings and other establishments will get such facilities in phases.
As many as four gates – two for general students, one for the physically challenged and the rest for emergency exit – will be built in front of every hall and security guards will be deployed there on 24-hour service.
Only residential students, responsible teachers and security guards will be able to enter the halls through punching in their identity cards. No guest, even a first-degree relative, will be allowed to stay there.
The students can meet with their guests in the guest rooms. Each hall needs some Tk20-25 lakh to set up 4 gates and for necessary works.
According to the plan, "Panic buttons" connected to the emergency alarm system will be set up at each important corner, guest room and cafeteria of the halls, and monitored by the hall authorities so that the students can prevent any unexpected incidents like "ragging" or humiliation by other fellow students. Every hall needs Tk4-4.5 lakh to introduce the system.
Unified ID card for students
In line with the draft policy, all the students will be provided with unified smart identification cards, with which they will get entry to libraries and halls, and visit medical centres.
For all institutional activities as well, they will have to use the cards.
With the smart card connected to the access control system, the authorities will be able to trace any student whether he is in the hall or library or medical centre.
CCTV monitoring centrally
As part of ensuring a secure campus, the administration will increase a good number of high-powered CCTV cameras and set up a central monitoring cell to keep track of the movement of teachers, students and others inside the university. The cell will detect important incidents and take necessary action afterwards.
"We have a bitter experience regarding the Arbab Fahad murder. Now we are highly conscious about the safety and security of the students," Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, director of the Directorate of Students' Welfare (DSW) of Buet, told The Business Standard.
"We will try to implement the initiative to digitalise the campus as early as possible. In the meantime, we will appoint new employees to supervise the systems soon," he added.
Situation on the campus
The political situation of the Buet campus, as that of many other public universities, came into the limelight after the Abrar Fahad murder. However, "ragging", torture, humiliation by students affiliated with the ruling party's student wing have been in practice there for a long.
The university authorities did not take action against these incidents.
With Abrar's death, the general students raised their voices. The authorities also learned a lesson from the experience.
Appreciating the Buet authorities' plans now, students called for the implementation of the draft planned initiative without any delay.
Meanwhile, a Dhaka court recently sentenced 20 Buet students to death and five more to life imprisonment for killing Abrar for his social media post criticising the Bangladesh-India deal on sharing the waters of the Feni River.