A newly-wed woman was gang-raped allegedly by a group of activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, at Murari Chand College in Sylhet on Friday evening.

The victim’s husband was kept confined in the male students’ hostel of the college during the incident.

Students of the college on Saturday blocked Sylhet–Tamabil Highway and staged demonstration protesting at the incident and demanding immediate arrest of and exemplary punishment for the offenders.

Police said that Shah Paran police station members, being informed, rescued the woman and her husband at around 10:30pm on Friday from a room of the student hostel at Baluchar in the city.

Police told reporters that a youth from Shibbari under Dakshin Surma in the city and his newly-married wife went to the MC College by a private car to visit the campus in the city’s Tilagar on Friday afternoon.

They said that a group of youths, armed with firearms and sharp weapons, held the couple confined on the college campus in the evening and took them to the student hostel of the college at Baluchar, about a kilometre from the campus.

Later, the youths raped the woman one after another, keeping her husband confined in a room of the student dormitory, the police said.      

The kidnappers also assaulted the victim’s husband as he tried to resist them, police said.  

Shah Paran police station officer-in-charge Abdul Kaiyum Chowdhury told New Age that they rescued the couple from the spot at around 10:30pm and sent them to Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital.

‘The rape victim was admitted to the hospital’s one-stop crisis centre,’ he said, adding that her husband also received treatment at the hospital.

Police conducted a raid on the student hostel at around 2:00am on Saturday.

They seized a number of weapons, including a light gun and four machetes, from a room meant for college teachers but where BCL leader Saifur Rahman had been living illegally for long, the police officer said.

Sylhet Metropolitan Police additional deputy commissioner (media) Jyotirmay Sarker told New Age that the victim’s husband filed a case with the Shah Paran police station early Saturday accusing six identified and three unnamed youths of raping his wife, one after another, after kidnapping them.

Shah Md Mahbubur Rahman Rony, 25, a master’s student of the English  department of the MC College, college unit BCL leader Saifur Rahman, 28, Arzun Laskar, 25, Mahfuzur Rahman Masum, 25, Rabiul Islam, 25, and Tarekul Islam Tarek, 28, have been named accused in the case, he informed.

He said that sub-inspector Milton Nath also filed a case in the morning against Saifur Rahman in connection with recovering arms from a room of the hostel occupied by Saifur.

‘Efforts to arrest the offenders are under way and they would be brought under trial as soon as possible,’ the SMP officer said.   

Local people said that the suspects were BCL leaders and activists who were living in the college hostel illegally though it had been closed for months due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They alleged that the offenders were also involved in extortion and snatching in the area.

Of them, Saifur hails from Balaganj upazila, Masum from Kanaighat upazila and Arzun from Jakiganj upazila in Sylhet, Tarek from Jagannathpur upazila and Rabiul from Derai upazila in Sunamganj, police officials said.

MC College students staged a demonstration in front of the college after blocking the Sylhet–Tamabil road around noon protesting against the abduction and rape and demanding immediate arrest of and exemplary punishment for the offenders.

The student representatives during the demonstration blamed the college authorities for allowing the miscreants, who were involved in the incident, to stay in the student hostel since it has been remained closed for several months.

They warned of announcing a tough movement if the offenders were not arrested immediately.

They alleged that a group of unruly BCL leaders and activists had kept the room, allotted for teachers at the student hostel, illegally occupied for long but the college authorities did not take any step against them.

Contacted, college principal Saleh Ahmed, however, told New Age that they had asked the Shah Paran police station for taking step against the students living in the hostel illegally.

Mentioning that the college authorities are unable to take any academic step against the suspects as all of them are former students, the principal said that they would recommend to the National University authorities to cancel the certificates of the perpetrators.

He said that the college authorities on Saturday afternoon suspended two security guards of the student hostel for their alleged negligence in discharging their duty.

‘A committee, led by mathematics department head Anwar Hossain, has also been formed to probe the rape incident. The committee has been asked to submit its report within seven working days,’ the principal said.

As to the principal’s claim about asking police for taking action against the BCL members who kept the teachers’ room occupied, Jyotirmay Sarker said that they would look into the matter why no action was taken.

On May 11 this year, a group of BCL leaders and activists beat up Sylhet district livestock officer Kazi Ashraful Islam seriously injuring him as he refused to provide them with a he-goat free of cost from the government-owned farm.

Later, the police arrested a BCL activist for assaulting Kazi Ashraful and the livestock department filed a case in this connection against the attackers, including Sylhet district AL former youth and sports affairs secretary Ranjit Sarker.

But, the accused have recently been granted bail in the case by the metropolitan magistrate court.

Earlier on July 8 in 2012, a gang of BCL activists coming from outside of the MC College Hostel set the century-old student dorm afire in a bid to force the Islami Chhatra Shibir activists out of it, damaging 72 rooms in three out of the hostel’s six blocks while the other three blocks were vandalised.  

But, none of those BCL leaders and activists was arrested in the case that remained pending so far.

On October 3 in 2016, Badrul Alam, a fourth-year economics student of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology and senior assistant general secretary of the campus unit of BCL, hacked Khadiza Akter Nargis, a second-year BA student of Sylhet Government Woman College, critically injuring her. 

Khadiza came under the attack when she was coming out of her examination hall at the MC College after she had rejected his repeated love proposals.

On March 08, 2017, the Sylhet metropolitan sessions judge sentenced him for life as he confessed that he wanted to kill her.

General students of MC College alleged that such heinous incidents occurred repeatedly in the institution as proper actions were not taken against the perpetrators.   

Talking to New Age, Sylhet city BCL former president Abdul Basit Rumman claimed that the glorious image of the organisation was being tarnished due to misdeeds of a small number of BCL activists.

He expected exemplary punishment for the perpetrators so that no other activists could dare to repeat such incident. All of the BCL units in the district and city remained dissolved for several years, he added.

BCL organisational activities on the MC College campus have also remained suspended for around two years following a directive from the BCL central unit leaders, said Abdul Basit.

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