Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Illegal detention of students and professors

Charges are against conscience of nation: Prof Anwar

Dhaka, Jan 16 ( – Detained Dhaka University teacher Anwar Hossain said Wednesday that charges pressed against them were actually against the "conscience of the nation".

"The case against us is not ordinary. We—the four teachers and one student present in court—and 14 other fugitive students are not the real accused. It's Dhaka University that has been put in the dock."

"The accused are the conscience of the nation," Prof Anwar told a court in the capital where he defended himself against the charges of emergency rules violations during the days of campus violence in August.

The teacher said an intelligence agency was playing the main role in the issues tied to the August violence.

"It seems a Shahbag police official is the complainant of the case. But we know and the people know who the main forces were—against the conscience of the nation, against Dhaka University and against the teachers and students," he said.

"The members of the military intelligence agency have played the main role in framing charges. Not only that, they even attend this court regularly," Anwar alleged.

He said the charges were meant to malign the "conscience of the nation".

His statement came in the court of metropolitan magistrate M Golam Rabbani during the hearing of the defence statements by the accused.

Anwar read out a 10-page statement to the court where he described the context of the Aug violence.

He said they were no way responsible for the violence and they had just stood by the students against injustice.

The three other teachers and the student also pleaded innocent.

Prof Harun-or-Rashid said: "Nobody is above law. We are no different. Punish us if we are found guilty. Charges have been brought against us that we have violated emergency rules—state of emergency. But the government would not bring any charge against fundamentalists and anti-liberation forces who went on the rampages and brought out processions after the publication of a satire cartoon in the Prothom Alo."

"We have reviewed all papers of this case. It seems to me that all including the police official gave their statements under pressure," he said.

"We have limited wealth and powers. We cultivate knowledge. We compete for acquiring knowledge. We hope any person or any agency would not adopt any cruel measures against us. This is our country. Give us scope to build a beautiful country. I am innocent and I want fair justice," he told the court.

Dr Nimchandra Bhowmik and Dr Sadrul Amin also claimed to be innocent.

They said their names had not been included initially but they were included later "intentionally to malign us".

They said they had not been on the scene and did not give any statement during the volatile days.

Student Sardar Moniruzzaman Rubel also said he demanded "fair justice".

The violence had erupted over a chaos between the students and some troops camped at the university gymnasium.

The melee began during a football match. After some troops reportedly beat a student, the university students burst into protests, spilling over onto the streets of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

The court resumes Thursday for hearing of the arguments.

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