Protests over Bangladesh student death as PM vows to punish killers

DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday vowed to mete out the “highest punishment to the killers” of a university student who died after he criticised a deal the leader made with India.

The killing of 21-year-old Abrar Fahad on Monday, allegedly by members of a student branch of the country’s ruling Awami League party, has sparked two days of protests in Dhaka and other cities.

He was allegedly beaten for six hours in a dormitory not long after posting a Facebook comment criticising Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for signing a deal allowing India to take water from a river on the border between the two nations.

Some 13 students, including 10 from the Awami League branch, have been detained by police over his death.

“How inhumanly they have beaten him to death. I will never allow it. The criminals will surely face justice,” Hasina told reporters as she pledged to inflict the “highest punishment to the killers”.

Protesters have called for the attackers to be harshly punished and for the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of Hasina’s party, to be banned.

“Today it is Fahad Abrar and tomorrow it could be any of us. These dorms have turned into a nightmare for students. We demand an end to torture,” Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology student Fahim Ahmed told AFP.

The Prime Minister stopped short of acceding to the protesters’ other demand that politics be banned on campuses, saying it was up to individual universities.

Bangladeshi university teachers and students of Dhaka University take part in a protest after a pupil was allegedly beaten to death by ruling party activists. PHOTO: AP