SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: December 03, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Dhaka

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 3, 2023, members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party (Awami League), assaulted first-year student Ahsan Habib at a dormitory at the University of Dhaka (DU).

On the night of the incident, three BCL members – Habibullah Habib, Fazle Naveed Anon, and Nazmul Hasan – called several students into a guest room in Bijoy Ekattor Hall to “teach [them] manners.” Habib was among those called, apparently because he did not participate in BCL activities at DU. While Habib was in the room, the three BCL members verbally and physically assaulted him until he fell unconscious. Habib was then transported to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Rabbi Ahmed, the organizing secretary of DU’s BCL chapter, denied that an assault had taken place, stating that Habib fell unconscious because of low blood pressure. Sadiq Hasan, joint general secretary of DU’s BCL chapter, also claimed that no attack had taken place. DU BCL central general secretary Sheikh Wali Asif stated that the accused members would be subject to disciplinary action if found guilty.

The head of Bijoy Ekattor Hall Professor Abdul Bashir stated that “appropriate action” will take place after verification of the incident.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks by students on their peers. 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 victim, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.