The former chief adviser to the army-backed interim government and the former army chief, who were asked to appear before the parliamentary subcommittee formed to investigate the student-soldier clashes at Dhaka University in August 2007, did not appear before the committee meeting scheduled for Sunday.
The former chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, and former army chief, Moeen U Ahmed, sent letters again to the committee as they had done before, prompting the committee to decide on Sunday to interrogate them in a teleconference or through email, said meeting sources.
Sources said that Fakhruddin, in his e-mail sent on Saturday, informed the sub-committee of his inability to attend the meeting, saying that he was not involved at the operational level when the clashes were going on.
‘Everything was done by decision-makers at the lower level,’ said the letter.
He also said that he had nothing to do with the arrest of the teachers as it was a matter of the law enforcers and the court.
In another letter sent on Sunday morning, Moeen told the subcommittee that he was ill and staying in hospital after a surgical operation, and the doctor had advised him to take complete bed rest.
He also said that the higher level of the administration was not involved in handling the situation after the initial student-soldier clashes.
Moeen also reassured the subcommittee that he would reply to any of the members’ questions through email if necessary.
The subcommittee on Sunday referred to the statements of the former chief of the DGFI and head of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rajshahi range) who told the subcommittee that they were not responsible as everything was done as per the decision of the government’s high-ups, sources said.
‘The statements of the former DGFI chief and RAB official indicated the involvement of the top authorities of the government in the incident. We will question them (fakhruddin and Moeen) again, and if they do not reply through telephone or email we will be forced to conclude that they were involved,’ the subcommittee’s chief, Rashed Khan Menon, told reporters after the meeting.
He said that the as per the statements of the DGFI officials and university teachers, it was obvious that the violence was the result of machinations by certain quarters.
‘The university teachers said that DGFI officials Ameen and Bari held meetings with them and discussed various issues including the political situation,’ said Menon.
He said that the subcommittee has almost finished its probe and would make recommendations after holding one more meeting.
The subcommittee, at a meeting on April 18, rejected the written statements of Fakhruddin and Moeen who had refused to attend the meeting in person.
On March 29 it asked Fakhruddin and Moeen, both of whom are now in the USA, to appear at its meeting on April 18.
As they had just referred to the deterioration in the law and order situation and the legal measures taken by the government without saying anything of consequence, the subcommittee termed their written statements meaningless and again asked them to be present before it on June 5.
The parliamentary standing committee on the education ministry on August 19 last year formed the four-member subcommittee, headed by Rashed Khan Menon, to investigate the clashes in August 2007 that were a prelude to widespread turmoil, mostly in the universities.
Other members of the subcommittee are Mirza Azam, Shah Alam and Biren Sikdar.
On February 27 this year, some DGFI officers, including former Chief of General Staff Sina Ibne Jamali, appeared before the subcommittee and claimed that the intelligence agencies had played no role in the unrest as everything was done in line with the directives of the chief adviser and army chief.
But earlier the education adviser to the then interim government, Ayub Quadri, in his statement had accused a certain intelligence agency of fomenting the unrest.
Violence erupted on 20 August, 2007 when some soldiers beat up three students and insulted a teacher during a football match on the university gymnasium field.
Thousands of DU students on the same day took to the streets to protest against the incident and demand withdrawal of the army camp from the campus. They also asked for an apology from the concerned troopers.
There were pitched battles between the students and police for the next two days in which over 250 people, mostly students, were injured.