Student’s murder triggers protest in Bangladesh

As Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returns to Dhaka and is set to address a press conference on Wednesday following her Delhi trip, she may have to confront uncomfortable questions related to a murder.

A student of the country’s elite technical institute Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology [BUET] was allegedly murdered last weekend soon after he raised questions about the country’s recent bilateral agreements with India. The second-year student Abrar Fahad was allegedly lynched to death following “an interrogation” by student leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the students’ wing of ruling Awami League. At least four persons have been detained following the incident.

In a social media post, Fahad asked “why should we give 1.5 lakh cumec of water [of Feni river]” to India without “any return.” An MoU between India and Bangladesh was signed on “withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from Feni river by India for drinking water supply, scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura.” Fahad also questioned Dhaka’s plan to export petroleum gas to India.

A Dhaka-based journalist told The Hindu that Ms. Hasina’s trip is “interpreted in Bangladesh as one when she gave away everything and got nothing.” Mr. Fahad’s posts, which went viral, and alleged murder contributed to the sentiment, the journalist said. Mr. Fahad’s friends said that following the posts he was “interrogated” by BCL leaders of BUET.

“They asked him if he is associated with Islami Chhatra Shibir [students wing of Jamat-e-Islami] as he was posting anti-India and anti-Awami League messages. He was isolated in a university room and reportedly beaten to death,” his friend told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. The autopsy report confirmed, Fahad was beaten to death by blunt objects.

Following the incident, students staged demonstrations in various universities. Usually the Prime Minister addresses the press after major overseas trips; thus Ms. Hasina is expected to interact with press on Wednesday. She may have to give the government’s version about the student’s death. Government officials agree that the issue is “snowballing” and it would “be better if it is addressed fast.”


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