Jahangirnagar University (JU) Controversy: VC, family in a tight spot
12:00 AM, September 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:02 AM, September 17, 2019

JU Controversy: VC, family in a tight spot

Two BCL men admit receiving Tk 25 lakh from Tk 1 crore ‘Eid Salami’, call for checking phone records

The Jahangirnagar University vice-chancellor and two of her family members appear to be in a fix with a JU BCL faction publicly claiming it had received Tk 25 lakh as per a settlement reached at an August 9 meeting at the VC’s residence. 

An audio leak that went viral following the ouster of central BCL president and secretary also indicates that an exchange of money involving the VC’s family and JU BCL top brass took place.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, the faction leaders said the JU BCL was given “Eid Salami” after the meeting.

Saddam Hossain, joint secretary of JU BCL, and Niamul Hassan Taj, a vice-president, who lead the faction, also talked to other media outlets, making similar claims.

According to them, the meeting decided that they would get Tk 25 lakh while JU BCL President Jewel Rana and General Secretary SM Abu Sufian Chanchal Tk 50 lakh and Tk 25 lakh respectively.

VC Farzana Islam has all along denied these allegations, including involvement of her family members in any such dealing.

Talking to our JU correspondent yesterday, Saddam said they phoned the VC around 4:30pm on August 9, saying they wanted to talk to her.

“The VC mam said: okay, you may come. I will also call Jewel and Chanchal. I said, okay mam, no problem,” Saddam said, adding that he and Taj went to her residence around 6:00pm.

VC’s husband Akhter Hossain and son Pratik Tajdik Hossain were also present there, he said. “Jewel and Chanchal came after about an hour.”

“In the meantime,” he added, “her husband and son were saying: ‘Why did you contact the central BCL? What has central BCL done for the campus?’

“They were trying to say that interference from the central BCL here is not good.”

They were against any sort of dealings with the central BCL regarding the ongoing mega project and wanted to “get the job done with Jewel and Chanchal”, Saddam added. 

The faction led by Saddam and Taj is known to be loyal to Golam Rabbani, immediate-past general secretary of central BCL.  

Amid a barrage of allegations, Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and Golam Rabbani were removed from the BCL helm on Saturday.

The VC recently alleged that Shovon and Rabbani demanded “4 to 6 percent” in cuts from the Tk 1,445-crore project at the university. They went to her residence on August 8.

After initially denying to a number of media outlets, Rabbani admitted to The Daily Star 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”.

‘EID SALAMI’

Saddam said, “At the August 9 meeting, Taj and I proposed a fifty-fifty share among the followers of central BCL president and general secretary. But Jewel and VC mam differed, saying, ‘Chanchal is the general secretary and how can you deprive him’?

“We said, ‘Mam, Chanchal has no following’.”

“Later,” he went on, “the VC and her family said: drop the topics of central BCL or tender…. Take it as Eid Salami. And that they would discuss further after Eid vacation.

“Finally, it was decided that the JU BCL president will get Tk 50 lakh, general secretary Tk 25 lakh and we will get Tk 25 lakh.”

The next morning, Jewel and Chanchal “received the money”, said Saddam and Taj, adding they tried to contact them over the phone. But Chanchal “refused to give them anything”.

Saddam and Taj both contacted VC’s son Protik, who told them that he would call Jewel and Chanchal. “Later in the afternoon, Taj and I received Tk 25 lakh from Chanchal in cash at the guest room of Shaheed Salam Barkat Hall.”

Also, talking to reporters yesterday, Taj said, “We got Tk 25 lakh as per the meeting’s decision.”

Both Saddam and Taj said the investigators should check phone call records of the VC, her personal secretary and her son after the bidding over Tk 450-crore work began.

“Especially the phone call records between me, Taj and VC’s son before and after August 9 -- all will be cleared,” Saddam said, calling for a probe.

Asked about the challenge the VC threw against the allegations, Saddam said, “She herself fixed at the meeting who will get how much. If she is denying this, she is lying.”

Contacted, Jewel Rana, president of JU BCL, denied the allegation that any discussion over money-sharing took place at the meeting or later on.

“The issues relating to our internal problems were discussed at the meeting,” he said, without going into details.

JU BCL Secretary Chanchal could not be reached for comments over the phone despite several attempts.

The VC’s son Protik and her husband Akhter Hossain did not receive phone calls made by our JU correspondent.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Prof Farzana Islam claimed that the audio record on the so-called money sharing is fabricated. She called for an investigation into the matter.

Earlier, Golam Rabbani claimed that he and Shovon didn’t receive any money from the JU authorities, rather Prof Farzana paid Tk 1.60 crore to the JU BCL leaders from the ongoing Tk 1,445-crore campus development project.

However, rejecting this claim, the VC said Rabbani made a fabricated story of Tk 1.6 crore.

Challenging the former BCL general secretary to prove his claims, she said she would request the chancellor of the university, President Abdul Hamid, and the University Grants Commission authorities to look into the matter.

Also, in a press release, the JU authorities said no talks on “money-sharing” took place at the meeting. “The VC did not give money to anyone. Rabbani has made it up.”

AUDIO LEAK

Meanwhile, an audio clip purportedly of mobile phone conversation between Rabbani and Saddam has been doing the rounds on social media since Sunday. A number of media outlets also picked it up.

During the six-minute audio clip, Saddam told Rabbani that Prof Farzana Islam and her family members distributed Tk 1 crore among leaders of the BCL JU unit.

He admitted having this conversation with Rabbani but could not say how it was leaked. He was heard saying he and his associates received Tk 25 lakh.

Saddam yesterday told The Daily Star he did not know where this money came from and that the VC would know.

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