Six Chhatra League activists have been accused of raping a woman at the hostel of Murari Chand College in Baluchar area of Sylhet on Friday night.
The accused have been controlling the hostel for years and prime accused Saifur Rahman used to live in a bungalow designated for the hostel superintendent.
Officers found a pistol, four sharp weapons and many iron rods at the bungalow early yesterday and filed another case against Saifur under illegal arms law.
On Friday night around 8:00, a married couple was visiting the college campus when the suspects forced both of them to the hostel and gang-raped the wife while keeping the husband tied with a rope.Police rescued the woman around 10:00pm and got her admitted to a hospital more than two hours later.
The husband filed the case later that night with Shahporan Police Station accusing Saifur Rahman, 28, of Sylhet’s Balaganj, Shah Mahbubur Rahman Roni, 25, of Habigaj town, Arjun Lasker, 25, of Sylhet’s Zakiganj, Mahfuzur Rahman Masum, 25, of Sylhet’s Kanaighat, Tarek Ahmed, 28, of Sunamganj town, and Rabiul Islam, 25, of Sunamganj’s Derai upazila.
The husband also accused 2-3 unnamed men. No one was arrested as of last night.
As there are no committees of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) in the college, Sylhet city and the district.
Of the suspects, only Mahbubur is a student of the college and a legal resident of the hostel. Saifur, Arjun and Mahfuzur are former students of the college and the rest have never studied there, officials said.
The complaint made by the husband mentions that Mahbubur is a resident of Room-205 at Block C while prime accused Saifur Rahman’s present address is the bungalow of the hostel superintendent.
THE HOSTEL WAS THEIR DEN
Several former and present BCL activists of the college told this correspondent that their fellow men have been controlling the hostel since 2012.
After a new block was added to the hostel in 2014, a feud started between two BCL groups over taking its control.
The hostel remained closed for weeks multiple times because of the clashes between the groups, students said. Many of the rooms in the block where the rape took place was occupied by BCL activists.
Seeking anonymity, a BCL activist said, “The group [accused of raping] often engaged in extortion and harassed women on campus. We tried to stop them many times.”
Abdul Kaiyum, officer-in-charge of Shahporan Police Station, said, “Since the prime accused used to live in the bungalow of the hostel superintendent, we raided it.”
College principal Saleh Ahmed said, “The bungalow is damaged and not liveable. The hostel superintendent chose not to live there. They occupied the bungalow and we evicted them several times. We even snapped the electricity lines. But they managed to get an illegal electricity connection.
“They took over the bungalow after the last Eid. As the college is closed for the pandemic, the monitoring was not that strict.”
Although the college has been closed, the authorities allowed some students to stay there.
The hostel superintendent Jamal Uddin yesterday issued a notice asking everyone to leave immediately.
PROBE BODY FORMED
To investigate the rape, the authorities called an emergency academic council meeting yesterday afternoon.
A three-member probe body headed by Professor Anwar Hossain Chowdhury was formed at the meeting, the principal said.
“We suspended two security guards of the hostel and legal steps will be taken as per the probe body’s recommendations,” he said.
“We are embarrassed and ashamed by the incident. The perpetrators must be punished. If the student of our college is found guilty, we’ll ask the National University to suspend his studentship.”
There are allegations that a group of local Awami League leaders tried to settle the issue over discussion which gave the suspects enough time to flee.
Talking to several present and former BCL activists of the college, this correspondent came to know that all the accused are followers of Advocate Ranjit Sarker, former youth and sports affairs secretary of Sylhet district Awami League.
This correspondent could not contact Ranjit despite repeated attempts.
Police officials denied the allegations.
ACTIVE ON FACEBOOK
Officials of Sylhet Metropolitan Police and Rapid Action Battalion said they would arrest the accused soon.
Two of the accused Rabiul Hasan and Mahfuzur Rahman Masum wrote on Facebook yesterday morning that they were innocent.
PROTESTS FOR JUSTICE
General students along with a faction of BCL activists demonstrated in front of the college gate around 1:00pm.
They torched a tire and blockaded Sylhet-Tamabil Highway for around an hour until the college Principal and Police requested them to withdraw.
Bangladesh Chhatra Adhikar Parishad also demonstrated at Chowhatta Point in the city at around 12:00pm.
Sankhubdho Nagorik Andolon in Sylhet, organised a protest at Sylhet Central Saheed Minar where hundreds of concerned citizens gathered.
Ain O Salish Kendra expressed grave concern over the rape and demanded justice for the victim.