On February 22, 2023, members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party, the Awami League, assaulted around 30 students at a Rajshahi College hostel for not participating in a BCL event.
On the evening of February 22, approximately 6 BCL members visited the hostel and went from room to room, beating students in retaliation for not attending an event that afternoon. Some students were reportedly brought to specific rooms in the hostel and assaulted there. Residents stated that the Rajshahi College BCL branch regularly threatens them, demanding that they participate in the group’s programming.
Later in the evening, Rajshahi College’s principal, Abdul Khaleque, visited the hostel to meet with students and address the incident but indicated that, because the BCL members are not students of Rajshahi College, the institution was unable to discipline them. BCL members reportedly continued to threaten violence against students during the meeting.
On February 23, Rasik Datta, the leader of the Rajshahi College BCL branch, acknowledged that the attackers were his followers and apologized to the victims.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about partisan, violent attacks by student groups on students. State and university authorities must take reasonable measures to ensure safe living conditions for students, and students must refrain from violence. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on campus undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)