UGC opens query over forced haircuts at Rabindra University
News Desk || shiningbd
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has formed a committee to probe allegations of humiliation, mental torture, and harassment of 14 students against an associate professor of Rabindra University in Sirajganj. The three-member committee, headed by UGC Member Prof Dr. Dil Afroza Begum, will submit its findings by November 10.
The other members of the committee are -- Muhammad Jaminur Rahman, director (additional charge) of the management department of the public university, and Muhammad Yousuf Ali Khan, senior assistant director of the same department.
A letter signed by Muhammad Jaminur Rahman, member secretary of the investigation committee, has already reached the registrar branch of the university by e-mail last Thursday.
“The investigation has already started. We have received the university's CCTV footage of the incident as well as verbal and virtual allegations against Associate Prof Farhana Yeasmin Baten, who stands accused of forcibly cutting the hair of students,” a member of the committee told Dhaka Tribune.
“We will be on the campus for seven days from Wednesday. During this time, we will take statements from 14 or 16 students who have been humiliated and also from the accused teacher. We will also take note from eyewitnesses and activists who are involved in the ongoing movement," said the UGC official.
Asked if the accused teacher would be sacked if found guilty, the official said: " We can only make recommendations. The academic council will take the final decision on the basis of that recommendation.”
The commission, however, said that its recommendations will be forwarded to the Ministry of Education and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
On September 29, NHRC asked UGC to form a probe panel over the incident at Rabindra University and submit the report by November 29
Meanwhile, another five-member probe committee of the Rabindra University founded proof against the teacher.
Laila Ferdous Himel, chairman of Rabindra Studies Department and the head of the five-member probe committee, said they have already got proof after going through CCTV footage which showed Farhana cutting students' hair.
Students continue to demonstrate
The academic council of the university is yet to take any action against the teacher, except for refraining her from academic activities until further notice.
Agitated students of the university are continuing their demonstrations as no disciplinary action has been taken so far.
Some of the students have started an indefinite hunger strike. Two of them fell seriously ill and had to be hospitalized.
The students said they would not move until the accused teacher Farhana Yeasmin steps down.
Police foil protests
The teachers and staff of Rabindra University, confined by the agitating students in the academic building since Sunday afternoon, were freed by the police after midnight.
"Law-enforces came to the spot around 2 am and forced the students to free them. They hurled abuses and it seemed that they would have assaulted us had we not let them out," Zafar Hossain, one of the organizers, told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
"The university authorities are not sacking the teacher [Farhana Yeasmin] and are now sending police to foil our protests. This is outrageous. We will not stop our movement," said Zafar, a second-year student of Rabindra University.
There were 14 teachers and some staffers locked inside the academic building, but the students allowed other staff members to send food for them in the night.
Laila Ferdous Himel, who led the probe by the university, was among the teachers who were confined. She, however, said that there was no police intervention.
“The students let us go and even dropped some of us home,” she told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.