One might have thought that Nurul Haq Nur and his supporters would get justice as the government initially showed signs of genuine concern. But it is an irony of fate that Dhaka University Central Students' Union Vice President Nur and his supporters now have a case of attempt to murder on their heads.
Earlier, Nur and 22 others were injured in an attack allegedly carried out by Muktijuddha Mancha and Chhatra League activists at DUCSU building on December 22, Sunday. The government bigwigs also became very much concerned over the attack and some of them rushed to the hospital to see the victims.
On December 23, a day after the attack, several events took place. A case was filed against 30-35 leaders and activists of Muktijoddha Mancha, including central general secretary (GS) Al Mamun and its Dhaka University (DU) unit GS Yasir Arafat Turjo, for their alleged involvement in the incident. Al Mamun and Yasir Arafat Turjo were detained by detectives. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had instructed the authorities concerned to take action against those who carried out the assault.
However, on Thursday, four days after the attack, things took a U-turn. Almost all the newspapers carried the news of Nur bearing the brunt of the authorities – a case was slapped against him and his so-called accomplices, who were being dubbed as "outsiders". If we are to draw an analogy with the protagonist of Albert Camus' The Outsider, where personal belief provided the basis for his final execution, Nur's too at present verges on the tragedy. Though, our real-life protagonist – Nur – is no existentialist, but his struggle is about the "existence" of democracy.
One must add to this existential equation the fact that his survival in the face of hostility would finally mean that politics after all is still possible. By politics one may refer to how mandate for and against a particular force, group and even a leader is determined by a sequence of democratic practices, including voting. Since Nur is an elected leader, he must be treated as one.
Tofail Ahmed, a former vice-president of DUCSU, a member of Awami League's advisory committee and a former minister, also emphasised this very point. He termed the attack on Nur as unfair and unacceptable and said, "Assaulting the DUCSU VP is a disgrace for all students." One must realise that as a former VP, he is invoking what one may term political coexistence.
Tofail Ahmed went on to add, "When someone is elected vice-president, he becomes everyone's leader. The way Nur was tortured inside the DUCSU office was inhumane. The NSF (National Students Federation Pakistan) attacked the DUCSU office in a similar way when we were students. But Ayub Khan and the NSF fell from power, but nobody learnt a lesson from it."
The Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also showed his concern. "You all know that a case was filed over this incident. Some people have already been arrested," he said. The home minister further said that those who have been accused or were seen on the spot will be apprehended for sure.
Surely it is a disgrace for all of the students that their elected representative is getting beaten up by the members of the student's organisation of the ruling party and it is a mockery and slap on the leaders' face when a member of Chhatra League is filing a case against the VP just to harass him.
DM Sabbir Hossain, former vice-president of Bangladesh Chhatra League of the Zahurul Haque Hall unit filed a case against 29 people, including DUCSU Vice President Nurul Haque Nur, accusing them of "attacking" him on December 22. According to the case statement, Nur and his aides "attacked" Sabbir in DUCSU area on the campus on December 22, the same day, a section of Muktijoddha Mancha activists allegedly carried out an attack on Nur and his followers inside his DUCSU office.
The claim that VP Nur has entered DUCSU premises with outsiders and the outsiders posed a security threat for the university is also an absurd one.
Dr Md Nazrul Islam, Professor of Law of University of Dhaka said, "Anyone from any part of the country can enter DUCSU building and meet the VP. And there is no law that states that the outsiders cannot enter the university premises. But there is a mention in the judicial law that no one can beat anyone, whereas BCL men are beating up people and claiming that they either belonged to the opposition or were outsiders."
"Nur and his supporters were beaten mercilessly and an attempt to murder was brought upon them. Everyone was rushing to the hospital to see the injured and they seemed so much concerned. But what happened next, a case was filed against the victims saying that they attempted to murder an activist of the alleged organisation that committed the crime," Professor Nazrul said and also added that "this thing could not have happened if there were democracy and rule of law in the country."
The professor is of the opinion that "the ruling party is just ridiculing the judicial system of the country and the case against Nur and his supporters is a proof of this."
"We have previously seen that there have been false cases against people who had voiced their opinion against the present government. The people in power might claim that activists and members of their party also face punishment. But the number is too low and in most of the cases they, in the end, roam around freely," added the professor.
The professor also expressed his dissatisfaction over the administration body of the university. He said, "It is the responsibility of the proctor to ensure the security of the students in the university premises. The proctor has failed to do so. And I am also really shocked observing their behaviour. They act just like a member of the Chhatra League."
Nurul Haq Nur has so far been considered a phenomenon – dubbed as the "third force", he is now being pushed to an extreme end. If tragedy is his fate, the drama that he has been part of can only be interpreted as an "interrupted" act where as an "actor" he went through the right moves, but the people around him simply failed to lend him support to finish what he started.