Sunday, September 15, 2019

Shovon, Rabbani axed

Staff Reporter :
Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) central committee President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and General Secretary Golam Rabbani were suspended on Saturday for taking extortion money from the company, which got the tender of worth Tk 1445.36 crore for development projects of Jahangirnagar University (JU).
Al Nahian Khan Joy, Senior Vice-President of the present committee and its Joint Secretary- 1 Lekhok Bhattacharya have been made the Acting President and General Secretary of the central committee.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cancelled the posts of Shovon and Rabbani as per the decision of the Awami League Advisory Executive Body at Ganabhaban yesterday evening.
On Friday, Shovon and Rabbani demanded "4 to 6 per cent" in cuts from the Tk 1445.36 crore projects at Jahangirnagar University, Vice Chancellor Prof. Farzana Islam has alleged.
After initial denial to a number of media outlets, Rabbani has admitted to the media that they indeed demanded their "fair share" from the VC, although he would not say how much.
He said they wanted money for their "Eid expenditure".
He also brought allegations against the VC and her family of giving Tk 1.6 crore to the Jahangirnagar University Chhatra League so they did not get in the way of the development project.
Earlier, Shovon and Rabbani hurled abusive language to JU VC Farzana Islam when she refused to manage the demanded money from the company of the project on August 8 that made concerned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
Awami League insiders said.
Following some previous bad records, mainly the JU project extortion, Shovon and Rabbani had lost their excess to enter the Ganabhaban, they added.
They AL high command has taken the decision to suspend them on charge of involving different crimes and unconstitutional acts, they said.
During the first half of their two-year tenure, Shovon and Rabbani could form only two committees. They failed to form committees for Jagannath University and Eden Mohila College, although the councils of these units were held two months ago.
Also the two vice-presidents of the organisation got involved in a scuffle over sitting inside Shovon's car near Madhur Canteen in Dhaka University.
Shovon dragged a journalist inside his car when the latter was filming the scuffle and Shovon deleted the footage himself.
Rabbani, also the general secretary of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DCUSU), faced criticism for installing an Air Conditioner in his DUCSU building room.
In fact, there is hardly any crime that the BCL has not committed. From snatching tender box to working as ancillary to the law enforcing agencies in chastising other students or student groups ventilating genuine grievances, and interfering in the administration of the universities.
The last straw was perhaps getting 34 of their cadre admitted to Dhaka University violating the rules.
The developments come amid allegations of corruption and irregularities in the mega project on the campus, which sparked a huge protest there.
Talking to media, the Vice Chancellor said the two top BCL leaders, who were picked by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, went to her residence on August 8 and demanded the money. "They insisted that I arrange the money from the company that got the construction job. As I refused to entertain their demand, they misbehaved with me," she alleged.
"At one point, Rabbani said the days of one per cent and two per cent are long gone. Is it possible [to do such work] without paying less than four to six per cent these days? … It's a big project. If you help us, we will help you too," the VC said, quoting Rabbani as saying on August 8.
"A six per cent commission on the project fund would be Tk 86 crore. I told them how would we construct the buildings then? I also told them not to say such things ever again…. When I refused to cave in to their pressure, they shouted at me and then left," she said.
Rabbani also met the VC at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on May 26 and put pressure on her to stop construction deals with companies of her choosing, she said, adding that she was under treatment there at the time.
Shovon and another BCL leader accompanied Rabbani there, while several dozen BCL men waited downstairs, she added. Professor Farzana, who was appointed as VC for a second straight term last year, said that she met the Prime Minister on Tuesday evening and discussed the ongoing protest, the development projects and issues related to the central BCL.
"We talked for over 30 minutes. At the meeting, we talked about Chhatra League President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and General Secretary Golam Rabbani.
"The PM said, they [Shovon-Rabbani] put you in trouble too,'" Prof Farzana said, adding that the PM asked her not to worry. "If the Jahangirnagar University does not want the development project, we will not release the money. But there should not be any protest over this," the VC quoted the PM as saying.
Quoting the VC, Bangla daily Jugantor yesterday published a similar version of the conversion between PM Hasina and Professor Farzana. Asked why she did not inform the PM of the matter earlier, the VC said, "I informed some Awami League leaders, but didn't tell the Prime Minister at first, as she was busy."
At least 10 leaders and activists of JU BCL earlier said that they got their share from the money handed over to three factions of the student body after their meeting with the VC on August 9.