Three days into the Prime Minister's announcement of scrapping quota in public jobs, a demand for removing the family members of Jamaat-Shibir men and war criminals from public offices was put forward in two separate rallies in the city yesterday.
The participants of the two rallies held in front of Jatiya Press Club and Shahbagh intersection simultaneously, also demanded stopping recruitment of such individuals and forfeiture of the assets of war criminals.
In the programme at the press club, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan announced holding a mass gathering at Suhrawardy Udyan on April 30 to press home their demands. A month-long countrywide programme was also announced.
The month-long programme includes: memorandum to PM by all district administrator and upazila nirbahi officer on April 18, public rally from April 20 to May 31 at different districts and representative meeting of freedom fighters on April 22.
A national convention is also scheduled to be held on May 5 in this regard.
Several hundred people participated in the programme organised by Muktijoddha Santan O Prajanma Somonnoy Parishad, Sramik-Karmachari-Peshajibi Muktijoddha Somonnoy Parishad.
Those against the spirit of liberation war should not be given public jobs, the minister said.
He said confusion was created over the quota system. “Now the question is: whom will we call meritorious? We can't call anyone meritorious without [them having] the spirit of liberation war.
“We didn't fight in the liberation war for quota…. Honourable Prime Minister, you scrapped quota and we accepted it. But you have to meet our demand.”
On Wednesday night, the PM in parliament announced scrapping of the quota system and asked students to end the quota reform demonstrations.
Though abolishment of quota was not the demand, the students and job seekers have for long demanded its reformation, terming it “discriminatory” and “hugely disproportionate”.
Currently, 44 percent of public service recruitment comes from the merit list and the remaining 56 percent from various quotas.
Addressing the protestors, the shipping minister said, “You may not respect the freedom fighters, but [you] can't disrespect them.”
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is ruling the country with the spirit of liberation war. Is it right to give jobs to the children of Razakar and Jamaat-Shibir?” he asked.
The parishad also announced a six-point demand, including exemplary punishment of those who created anarchy by spreading rumours in the name of quota reform movement, an enactment of a law similar to the Holocaust Denial Act and ensuring trial of those who demean freedom fighters, liberation war and Bangabandhu.
“You have seen students protesting for quota reform. Students can protest for any cause. But those who have attempted to kill Dhaka University's Vice-Chancellor…we have to find them,” the minister said.
At the rally, Mukijoddha Santan O Prajanma Somonnoy Parishad convener Ashibur Rahman Khan, Ismot Kadir Gama, Abdul Malek Miah, Osman Ali, ABM Sultan Ahmed, JSD general secretary Shirin Sultana, journalist Abed Khan, actress Rokeya Prachi were present among others.
In Shahbagh, Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad Santan Command, a forum of the children of freedom fighters, also demanded the same at a rally arranged in front of National Museum.
The forum also demanded punishment for those who, it claimed, have disrespected freedom fighters and their family during the recent quota reform movement. It also asked for enactment of a freedom fighters' family protection law.
President of the organisation, Mehedi Hasan, demanded the government punish the criminals who vandalised the DU VC residence and “tried to spread agitation through social media as well as disrespecting the freedom fighters”.
On February 17, students under the banner of Bangladesh Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad launched the movement over a five-point demand, including reducing the quota privilege to 10 percent from the current 56.
The movement turned violent on Sunday after police action against protestors. At least 100 people were injured and several others detained as violence flared up in Shahbagh and its adjacent areas.