[26 Nov Update: Verdict was not given yesterday. Six imprisoned teachers — RU vice-chancellor Professor Dr Saidur Rahman Khan, Professor Abdus Sobhan of the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Associate Professor Moloy Kumar Bhowmik of the Department of Management, Selim Reza Newton, Dulal Chandra Biswas and Abdullah al Mamun of the Department of Mass Communications — were brought to court in a prison van. They were taken to the courtroom downstairs instead of Judge Ruhul Amin’s scheduled courtroom upstairs, at 10.00 a.m. the court peshkar came and announced that the verdict would be given on Tuesday Dec 4, 2007. Interestingly, defence lawyers had not been informed of the change of plans as is courtroom norm. According to courtroom gossip, the honorable judge suddenly went off to Dhaka on Nov 22, reportedly for 4 days training. All concerned had assumed that scheduled verdict date of Nov 25 would be postponed. However, on Nov 24 it was learnt that the court would convene (as scheduled) on the 25th. On the 25th morning, prisoners were brought to court but the judge did not come. Some say he had not returned to Rajshahi, that he was on his way back from Dhaka. Others say he had returned, but had not come to the courthouse, he was at home. Court gossip says he was asked to go to Dhaka because someone way up, high-up had wanted to talk to him. Why the change in verdict dates? The other RU teachers case — Professor Sabbir Sattar Tapu, Professor Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan Sajal, teachers in the Department of Geology and Mining, both have been accused of setting fire to a vehicle belonging to the DGFI — is drawing to a close. The argument is scheduled for Nov 27, on that same date, the verdict date will be announced in court. Court hearing for Dhaka University professors Anwar Hossain and others is scheduled for Nov 28, charges to be framed on that day, charge-framing has been twice postponed this last one month.
Rajshahi court speculation: what will happen on the 4th? Why was verdict not announced on Nov 25th? Is the change of dates in any way linked to the other RU case, to the DU case? ]
Charges framed against 6 RU teachers for violating Emergency Power Rules
NewAge, September 18, 2007
A Rajshahi court on Monday framed charges against six detained Rajshahi University teachers for violation of the Emergency Power Rules by allegedly involving themselves in the campus turmoil in late August. Fazlul Karim Chowdhury, the judge of the Speedy Trial Tribunal of Rajshahi, indicted the teachers for inciting the demonstrations on the campus, apparently to protest against the incidents in Dhaka University. The court framed charges against former RU vice-chancellor Professor Dr Saidur Rahman Khan, Professor Abdus Sobhan of the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Associate Professor Moloy Kumar Bhowmik of the Department of Management, Selim Reza Newton, Dulal Chandra Biswas and Abdullah Al Mamun of the Department of Mass Communications.
Speedy Trial Tribunal, Rajshahi
September 23, 2007 to November 8, 2007
Speedy Trial Tribunal, Rajshahi
September 23, 2007 to November 8, 2007
Date of Court Hearing Name of Magistrate/Judge Name of Lawyer Name of Witness Time Summary Description
September 23, 2007
Fazlul Karim Golam Arif Tipu 1. Complainant:
Ferdous OC, Motihar thana, Rajshahi
10.30 am to 1.00 pm
15 mt recess
1.16 pm to 4.00
(The accused teachers were required to remain standing while the court was in session) The court heard the complainant’s case. Golam Arif Tipu who represents 6 of the accused teachers, cross-examined the complainant. To many questions, the complainant responded, `can’t say,’ `don’t remember,’ `don’t know.’ When asked why it took 6 days to prepare the First Information Report (ejahar), the reply was, `instructions from above.’
The cross-examination clearly revealed that the case is fabricated. Cross-examination not complete, the magistrate ruled that it would continue the next day. The learned court ignored the complainant’s bad behaviour, even after it was pointed out by the defendant’s lawyers. The latter were instructed to be concerned with themselves.
September 26, 2007 1. Golam Arif Tipu
2. Abul Kalam
3. Hamidul Huq Complainant: Ferdous, OC, Motihar thana, Rajshahi (for the second time).
2. Mohd Al-Amin (55), guard, Shahidullah, Arts Building
3. Mohd Rafikul Islam (38), owner of Tukitaki snacks (located inside campus, in front of the library) 11 am to 1.30 pm.
15 mt recess
1.47 pm to 3.00
(The accused teachers were required to remain standing while the court was in session) Two reports on the complainant Ferdous’s bribe-taking (Jugantor, 15 August; Jay Jay Deen, 13 August), another on police abuse of those in prison (today’s Jugantor) submitted in court. Ferdous denied the veracity of these reports, mentioned awards that he had received from governmental and non-governmental bodies, claiming that he was honest. During cross-examination, he repeated `don’t know,’ `can’t say,’ `don’t remember.’
As a result of his poor performance, all journalists were instructed to leave the courtroom after recess. Sangbad and CSB representative Jahangir Alam Akash refused, he was literally thrown out. Witness numbers 2 and 3 did not acknowledge the depositions which were appended to the chargesheet, they said they had not seen anything, nor had they signed the depositions.
Action taken The complainant Ferdous, OC of Motihar thana was transferred.
October 1, 2007
4. Mohd Babu (30), sells tea.
5. Mohd Nasimul Islam (22), bearer, RU club
(All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) Two public witnesses gave evidence. They said that they had not seen anything. They said they did not know any of the accused teachers excepting Saidur Raman. They added, they recognise him because he had been a Vice-Chancellor. One of the witnesses said, the police had not allowed him to speak, rather had taken down his statement as he (police) pleased.
October 4, 2007
6. Mohd Enamul Huq (24), signatory to the seizure list
7. Mohd Saiful Islam (50), guard, Zubery building, RU
(All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) Two public witnesses gave evidence. Oneof the witnesses failed to remember the date the incident took place, he was then declared a hostile witness. He said recognised all those accused to be university teachers but did not know why they were accused and in court. No 6 witness proved to be a police informant, who had turned up to be a signatory witness to the seizure list. The seized items had not been sealed. According to the rules, a copy of the list should be affixed to the front of the packet, the list should have the signature of the invesigating officer, the impounding officer, and the person who had witnessed the items being seized. Professor Sobhan’s trouser pockets contained his wallet which was not itemised in the seizure list.
October 8, 2007
8. Mohd Qaiyum (28), guard, RU Club
9. Mohd Anwar Hossain (37), Upper Assistant, Academic section
(All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) Witness no 8 was to give evidence about the accused having conducted a secret meeting on the 21st, and deciding on the next day’s plan of action. But he said that he knew nothing about this. He said, he saw the teachers come to club regularly but he did not know what they talked about. He said the police had inquired about his permanent address but they did not tell him why they needed to know.
Witness no 9 is an employee of the administrative section. As a witness he was to give evidence about the silent procession that took place on the 21st. But during cross-examination, he said that he did not know anything. He said he had heard that a silent processin had taken place but he did not know who took part in it or whether it had any banner. Because of what he said, the public prosecutor requested that he be declared a hostile witness, however, the court declined to do so.
[Eidul Fitr, October 14, 2007]
October 17, 2007
10. Abdul Jabid Opu (32), photojournalist,daily Samakal, Rajshahi bureau
(All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session)
No 10 witness is a photojournalist. He declined to be a witness, he told the police commissioner that in order to perform his professional duties he was bound to go to various places, this did not mean that he could be asked to be a witness. After this, the police did not ask him to be present, and he was absent.
No 11 witness is the chairperson of the department of Mass Communications. He said, on the day of the incident there was a meeting of the departmntal Academic Committee. All three accused teachers of the department were present at the meeting. He said, he had no idea where they went after the meeting. Poice showed him photographs and asked him to identify Mamun, Newton and Dulal. He did so, but aded that photographs could be altered. It was very easy to do so nowadays. He added, he did not think his colleagues could be involved in any anti-state activities. The court declared him a hostile witness.
October 23, 2007 Fazlul Karim
12. Mohd Mozaffer Hussain (55), Professor, Applied Physics and Electronics Engineering (All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) Witness no 12 is the chairperson of Applied Physics and Electronics Engineering. He said, there is no credible reason why these university teachers should have to defend themselves against these charges. All university teachers have proctorial powers. Any teacher can stand beside the student. He informed that court that, to his knowledge, the accused teachers are patriotic people, and that they do not engage in unjust activities.
October 25, 2007
13. DoD Senior Warrant Officer Mohd Ruhul Amin
14. Asst Sub-Inspector/116 MASobhan (All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) According to Witness no 14 none of the three arrested teachers [Saidur Rahman, A Sobhan, M Bhowmik] were tortured. They were treated with due respect. RAB members were not present on campus on 21st August, hence he does not know anything about thesilent procession. He learnt about it later.
[NB: Jahangir Alam Akash, Sangbad and CSB correspondent, was picked up by RAB in the early hours of the morning, he was tortured, and implicated in three false cases. Akash is currently in prison].
October 29, 2007
15. Asst Sub-Inspector Mohd Nazir Hossain, RAB-5
16. Havildar Shahidul Islam, RAB-5 (All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session)
Two RAB members took oath as witnesses. But they did not give any evidence, instead they said that they had followed the orders of their officers. They said they had nothing to add.
November 1, 2007
Judge court, Ruhul Amin 17. Asst Sub-Inspector Moqsedul Rahman, RAB-5 (All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) The judiciary became independent from today. Proceedings were instituted in the judge court. The witness told the court that he was on duty outside the campus on the 21st. Therefore, he did not know anything. When he came to campus he saw the procession but even though he has the power to arrest, he did not do so, nor did he prepare a GD or FIR. He could not identify any of the accused. He further said, he had seen and heard Selim Reza Newton addressing the procession. He could identify the VC but not the others.
November 5, 2007
18. Sub-Inspector SM Faruk Hossain, Motihar thana (All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman and Abdullah al-Mamun who was ill, were allowed to be seated, all other teachers were required to remain standing while the court was in session)
Witness no 18 said that he himself had arrested the three teachers. But he said he wold not be able to inform the court about the date or time of arrest, without consulting his files. He was not on campus on the 21st, on the 22nd he was stationed outside the main gate, from there one can only see the Administrative building. The case against the 6 teachers is no 13, based on GD no 1275. He had nothing to say about why the FIR was prepared after 5 days and not on the day the incident occurred. He said he did not know who had initiated the GD, or when it had been filed.
He said that during the ten day remand Professors Saidur Rahman, Sobhan and Bhowmik had been taken to the TFI cell in Dhaka. He admitted that they had been kept in the police station’s lockup for 5 days. When asked what provisions they had been given, he replied, they had been provided for as per govt rules. When asked to name these, he said, a light and a heavy quilt (katha o kombol).
November 8, 2007
1. Abul Kalam
2. Hamidul Haq 19. Police Inspector, Khondokar Ferdous Ahmed
20. Naziruddin Mondol, Sub-Inspector, Motihar thana, Rajshahi 10.30 am -2.15 pm
(All accused teachers excepting Saidur Rahman were required to remain standing while the court was in session) The complainant Ferdous Ahmed was also a witness. He said, he was on campus on the day of the incident (21 Aug). He saw the silent procession, he also saw the teachers who were present in the procession. Since he had been cross-examined for 8 hrs in the first two days, he was not asked any further questions.
Witness no 20 is Naziruddin Mondol, the investigating officer. He could not provide any logical reasons for including the names of the accused in the chargesheet, nor could he provide any evidence of instigation on their behalf. They have never been involved in any anti-state activities, neither is there any criminal record against any one of them in the local police station. Since his cross-examination had not been finished, the court fixed 11 November for the next hearing.
A photograph of the silent procession was exhibited in court. 60 faces can be clearly recognised but why only those accused had been selected from this large number, was a question left unanswered. Another photograph was exhibited, the prosecution claimed that some of the accused teachers were seen to be conspiring in the photo, and that Abdus Soban was present, even though he was not to be seen in the photo. On the contrary, some of the faces canbe clarly identified but why the had not been arrested and accused was another question that the witness failed to answer. Who identified Sobhan? In answer to this qestion, the witness replied, the Registrar [of RU, a known Jamaat follower]. Why was the Registrar not on the witness stand? This question again was left unaswered.
Events Prior to and post-Arrest of 8 RU teachers and Information Officer:
How the law was not followed
RAB officers picked up three RU teachers from their homes
August 24, 2007: RAB officers picked up former RU vice-chancellor Professor Saidur Rahman Khan and Professor Abdus Sobhan from their home in the early hours of the morning, at 4 am. Both professors teach in the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics; Professor Sobhan is also the convenor of Progressive Teachers Society. RAB officers picked up Moloy Bhowmik who teaches in the Department of Management from his house at about 4 pm in the afternoon.
Police tells court they were arrested on 25th, not 24th August
The Constitution states that if anyone is arrested she or he must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.
Professors Saidur Rahman Khan, Abdus Sobhan and Moloy Bhowmik were produced before a magistrate on the 26th (instead of the 25th). The police claimed that they had been arrested on the 25th.
They were tortured
Where were they kept, and in what condition, before being produced in court? No one has provided any credible answers.
However, we have learnt from reliable sources that Saidur Rahman, Sobhan and Moloy were taken to RAB-5 headquarters in Binodpur, adjacent to Rajshahi campus. They were physically and mentally tortured. Both Sobhan and Moloy were subjected to electric shock by being bound to iron chairs with ropes. Moloy was severely beaten on his legs with a rod. His legs were still swollen when he appeared in court ten days later.
The former Vice Chancellor pleaded with his interrogators and escaped receiving electric shock. However, we have learnt that he was physically tortured through other methods.
The court agreed to a 10 day remand
After producing them in court on August 26, the police requested and the court agreed to a ten day remand.
Where were they taken? Some think they were not taken anywhere, that they were locked up in the police station. Others believe that they were taken to the RAB office in Dhaka. Some others think they were taken to the TFI cell in Dhaka.
They were blindfolded and brought to Dhaka for interrogation
We have learnt from reliable sources that they were brought to Dhaka, blindfolded, on the 28th of August. They were sent back to Rajshahi on the 29th. Again blindfolded.
On September 1, they were brought back to court. The police informed the court that further remand was no longer required, that the necessary information had been extracted from them.
The court ruled that they should be given division status according to the Jail Code. However, Sobhan and Moloy were interred in the ordinary cell.
Three RU teachers declared fugitive
The charge sheet was filed in court on September 1. Six teachers — former RU vice-chancellor Professor Dr Saidur Rahman Khan, Professor Abdus Sobhan of the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Associate Professor Moloy Kumar Bhowmik of the Department of Management, Selim Reza Newton, Dulal Chandra Biswas and Abdullah Al Mamun of the Department of Mass Communications — were accused of violating Emergency Rules and inciting students to commit violence. The latter three teachers were declared fugitives, the court ruled that they should surrender within three days, or else, their property and assets would be impounded.
It is strange that the court declared Dulal, Newton and Mamun fugitives when both Dulal and Mamun were at home, and Newton had taken station leave to be admitted to the Cholera Hospital in Dhaka. Police delivered the court summons to their respective home addresses on September 2nd; since Newton was away, his summon was delivered to the department, and was received by the departmental chairperson Khademul Islam. The three teachers should have surrendered to court on 4th but that day being an official holiday, they surrendered on the 5th instead. The Court refused to give them bail, they were sent off to prison. The Court instructed the prison authorities that they be given division according to prison rules.
A Sobhan and M Bhowmik had not yet received division.
On September 6, the defendants lawyers raised the issue of division again. The Public Prosecutor opposed, arguing that they were junior teachers, hence not liable to get division. The defendants’ lawyers pointed out that Sobhan and Moloy had not yet received division even though the court had instructed the prison authorities to do so. The court instructed that all fve teachers be awarded division status. This came into effect on September 7; since no division cells were available, the 3 teachers who had surrendered were put in the Jail hospital and provided with benefits given to division status prisoners.
Charges were framed in court hurriedly, earlier than the appointed time
September 11: Charges were to be framed against the six detained Rajshahi University teachers on September 11. However, the date was postponed by nearly one week (September 17) after the accused appeared in court.
Two other teachers — Professor Sabbir Sattar Tapu, Department of Geology and Mining, and Professor Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan Sajal, Department of Geology and Mining — surrendered to court on the same day, they have been accused of setting fire to a vehicle belonging to the DGFI.
September 17: The court was scheduled to convene at 11.15 am on September 17, when charges were to be framed against the accused. But the court was hurriedly convened nearly an hour earlier. The accused teachers were brought in at 10.30 am, charges were hurriedly framed within 4 mts : they were accused of instigating violence and violating Emergency Powers Rules.
Because of the un-announced change in schedule, none of the defense lawyers were present when charges were framed against the accused.
The first hearing was scheduled for September 23.
† Name of Magistrate: Fazlul Karim Chowdhury, Janendranath Sarkar
† Judge Court: Ruhul Amin
† Lawyers defending the Golam Arif Tipu, Abul Kalam, Hamidul Huq, Enamul
accused teachers: Huq, Aslam Sarkar, Mohan Kumar
RU Information Officer Sadek Ali picked up by RAB
August 24, 2007 On the evening of August 24, Sadek Ali, Information Officer, RU was picked up by RAB on charges of inciting sudents to set fire to a car which belonged to the Directorate of General Forces Intelligence.
Two questions: The case concerning setting fire to the DGFI car was filed on August 26, after 2 pm. Why was the case filed after 5 days? Even though the incident was publicly known, no General Diary (GD) had been filed. Why? Concerned officers of the law-enforcing agency were repeatedly asked this question, both inside and outside the court. No reply was forthcoming.
Temporary suspension of eight teachers by RU authorities
On September 8, the eight accused teachers were suspended from their jobs by the University authorities. This was reported in the Bangladeshi media and also by BBC. On September 11, family members of these teachers went and met with the Vice-Chancellor. They wanted to know on which grounds the University authorities had taken this decision.
Pro-Jamaat RU Vice-Chancellor says in response to questions by journalists..
The Vice-Chancellor denied that the university authorities had decided to sack the accused teachers from their jobs. He said he had been informed that it would be illegal to sack teachers who had been merely accused according to the 1973 Ordinance. He said, the whole matter had blown out of all proportion due to the media’s excesses. He had never entertained such thoughts. He said he was unable to do anything to secure their release since the judicial process had already started. He said, if the accused teachers were set free, no other person would be happier than him.
One of the eight detained teachers had been picked up from campus but the Vice-Chancellor claimed that he had not known about the incident. He blamed the families for not having informed him.
The family members on the other hand told us that the Vice-Chancellor had not once contacted any family member of the eight accused teachers, had never bothered to find out how they were faring under the present circumstances. He had not expressed any concern or feelings of responsibility towards any of them which calls into question his leadership qualities or the values of community feeling that he professes to hold.