The students of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) expect a positive outcome from their recent movement against the background of the gruesome killing of Abrar Fahad, a student of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the university.
As some of them put it, Buet is the pride of the nation. But there has been a huge dent in its image with the killing of the second year student. They would like nothing more than a restoration of that image.
Kamrul Hasan, a student of the Chemical Engineering Department, told The Business Standard that there was no freedom of speech and even no freedom of normal movement. The leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, would exercise control over the students.
"Many former and current students have faced torture and humiliation at the hands of the Chhatra League," said Kamrul.
"It is unfortunate for us that the university authorities were silent even after receiving a good number of allegations about the behaviour of the Chhatra League from the students. The Chhatra League is certainly responsible for the irregularities that have been going on, but at the same time the university administration cannot ignore their responsibilities", he said.
Some among the students have alleged that the provosts and assistant provosts of the halls have worked at the direction of the Chhatra League leaders. The leaders have regularly handed over lists to the provosts and teachers, who have acted in line with them in the process of a distribution of seats.
The students alleged that the hall authorities used to keep at least five to 10 rooms in a hall vacant for the Chhatra League leaders. The leaders of the organization used these rooms for accommodating their cadres comprising Buet students and outsiders. They used these rooms sometimes as"torture cells".
According to the Buet students, the Director of Students' Welfare did not make any decision without consulting the Chhatra League leaders. He papered over all the activities the Chhatra League's Buet unit indulged in.
During their meeting on Friday with the Vice-Chancellor, the students sought answers from the Director of Students' Welfare, Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, to their questions about his links with the Chhatra League leaders.
Unable to answer their questions, he sought their forgiveness. He also promised not to keep connections anymore with the Chhatra League leaders and not to take part in any political activities in and outside the university.
Tithi, a spokesperson for the recent movement, told this correspondent that hundreds of students had been tortured by the Chhatra League men, who had the entire university in their grip. Inevitably, at one stage they turned into what she called monsters on the campus.
On the objectives of the students' movement, Tithi said, "Firstly, our movement is to ensure justice for Abrar Fahad. Secondly, our struggle is to eliminate all evil forces from the university.
"I hope we succeed," she said. "Our Buet will return to its earlier glory and the nation will look upon it as an ideal educational institution with high standards."
Siam, a second year student of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department and a resident of Sher-e-Bangla Hall, said that the Buet administration had started working to free the campus of terror. The administration has already sealed off many rooms, including those of the Buet unit Chhatra League president and general secretary, which they had been occupying illegally.
"We are no more in fear as we have no political seniors. We can move around easily without fear of any hindrance or assault on the campus," he said.
But some students fear that conditions could turn bad if Abrar's killers get bail and the activities of the Chhatra League resume.
Contacted by The Business Standard, Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, Director of Students' Welfare, dismissed the allegations against him of sheltering the Chhatra League. But he agreed that he had good relations with them.
"From now on I will do everything in the interest of the students to restore the image of the university," he said.
"I am also seeing a positive change. This change is possible if we work without having to negotiate with evil forces," he added.
Prof AKM Masud, President of Buet Teachers' Association, said that the students' movement is logical and he detects a positive change coming over the campus as a result of it.
"We cannot let Buet go to ruin. It is our national asset," he said.