Unlike most universities, the walls of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) are usually empty. Slogans or graffiti could hardly be seen in the campus walls save for occasional advertisements – a mark of absence of active student organisations. Buet over the years remained mostly tranquil in contrast to other campuses.
Now that the table is turned, and the peaceful abode of would-be engineers and technologists has transformed overnight into a fulcrum of countrywide agitations against violent student politics, the walls too have started to metamorphose.
At the sixth day of a sleepless student outcry, the walls are wearing colourful graffiti, thanks to a group of students who belong to the department of architecture.
On Saturday, some 20 students of the department were found busy colouring and drawing outlines of figures that bore insignia of protests against the current sorry state of affairs. Overlooking them across the road, at the foot of Shaheed Minar, a huge crowd of students were chanting slogans for days.
"No one can imagine a popular student movement without graffiti," said an agitating student who preferred to remain anonymous. The walls should mirror a reflection of the message the students are trying to communicate, he argued.
"We have decided to paint 17 graffiti, which will carry the essence of the movement," said Fahmidur Rahman, a fourth-year student from the department of architecture. At the wall next to Shaheed Minar, Fahmid was outlining a sketch of a huge figure lying dead.
Sandrilla Abbasi, a student of the same batch was helping Fahmid. She said, "We regularly paint graffiti at national occasions like Bengali New Year, or 16th December. Now that a student movement is going on, we can't sit idle."
The students have collected voluntary donations and the students' alumni has provided a small fund to bear the expenses of colours and brushes.
At a wall outside Sher-e-Bangla Hall, the student dormitory where Abrar Fahad was brutally murdered, Tasrifa Binte Farazi, a first-year student was writing a slogan "Hok Kolorob" (let the voices be heard). Tasrifa is painting a graffiti for the first time. She explained, "Had we not raised our voices in unison, silence would have prevailed. Things would have remained the same."
Next to her, a few walls apart, another graffiti was being painted which showed a blindfolded person facing a pistol. The texts ran, "Nirapod Achhis" (You are safe). Mumu Chakma, a student of third year was colouring it with brushes.
"It's a satire of a situation we are in. We are left at the mercy of the gun," Mumu said.
A nearby wall bore a figure lying, apparently, in a morgue. In one of the toes there is a tag depicting a strange number: 1706098.
"What does the number imply?" I asked one of the graffiti painters.
"It's the ID number of Abrar," was the answer.