At least seven members of the platform demanding civil service quota reforms, including its two leaders, were beaten allegedly by a group of BCL activists in front of Dhaka University Library yesterday.
The incident happened right before the protestors were about to hold a press briefing demanding immediate publication of the gazette on abolishing the quota system.
Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, the platform spearheading the quota reform movement, called for the press briefing to announce their next course of action as three months have gone by since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the quota system would be removed.
Before they could start, a group of 200-250 BCL men swooped on the quota reform leaders around 10:45am, injuring seven members of movement, including its convener Hasan Al Mamun and Nurul Haque Nur , a joint convener, Sumon Kabir, another joint convener of the platform, claimed.
However, BCL General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain claimed that no BCL men were present during the attack on quota reformists, adding that he had no idea about the attack.
“It was a scuffle between the two factions of the quota reform platform; some Chhatra League men might have gone there but [they were] not being instructed by the organisation,” he said, while talking to reporters at Madhur Canteen.
He also said if any group tried to boycott classes and examinations in any educational institutions in the name of quota reform movement, the BCL would protest against it and assist to prevent such boycotts.
Three BCL general secretaries of three Dhaka University halls-- Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall's Mehedi Hasan Sani, Bangabandhu Hall's Al Amin Rahman and Sir AF Rahman Hall's Mahmudul Hasan Tusaar – along with Anisul Islam Jewel, the central mass education affairs secretary, Jahir Ahmed Khan, the human resource affairs secretary, and central vice presidents Mehedi Hasan Rony and Imtiaz Bulbul Bappy, led the attack, alleged Hasan Al Mamun.
The Daily Star could only reach Mehedi Hasan Rony for comments. He said the quota reforms movement was being waged despite an announcement by the prime minister. It is just to disrupt the peaceful environment at educational institutions and Chhatra League would prevent such a thing from happening, he said.
Meanwhile, at different spots on the campus, other members of the quota reform movement came under attack.
Two of the platform leaders were beaten up in front of the Public Library at Shahbagh around 2:45pm, a witness said. BCL men mercilessly punched and kicked Nurul after surrounding him while Hasan managed to escape, this correspondent observed.
Nurul was then confined to the DU library by BCL men for 30 minutes, before he was handed over to the proctorial body.
The attackers also drove the quota reform demonstrators away from the area and took position at the library premises.
Nurul Haque Nur, along with platform activists Saddam Hossain, Ataullah and Hasan Al Mamun, were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Sub-Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of DMCH police camp, told The Daily Star.
Some of them were later shifted to private hospitals for better treatment, said Sumon.
Meanwhile, another joint convener of the platform, Muhammad Rashed Khan, alleged that another of their joint conveners, Moshiur Rahman, was picked up by BCL men from Surjasen hall of DU.
Via a Facebook live video, Rashed claimed that BCL men forcefully took Moshiur out of the hall and confined him to a “secret location”.
Meanwhile, in a press briefing in front of the DMCH, a reform platform leader Sumon Kabir told reporters that they would form a human chain in front of all public and private universities and colleges, except Dhaka University, across the country today to protest the BCL attack.
Besides, they will also stage demonstrations in all public and private universities and colleges, including Dhaka University, tomorrow to protest the same issue, he said.
In April, students of public and private universities across the country took to the streets demanding reforms in the quota system.
In the wake of the protests, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during a parliamentary session on April 11, declared the abolition of quotas.
After the government's failure to issue a gazette notification on the PM's announcement, the quota reform platform started an indefinite boycott of classes and examinations at all universities and colleges on May 14. They gave an ultimatum for the publication of the notification by May 13.
On May 21, quota reform demonstrators postponed their decision of boycotting examinations considering the month of Ramadan and at the prospect of “session jams” the strike might have caused.
However, on June 26, the PM suggested continuation of the existing freedom fighter quota in civil service.
At present, 56 percent of government jobs are reserved for candidates of various quotas, while the remaining 44 percent is drawn from applications on the merit list.
Of the 56 percent, 30 percent are kept for freedom fighters' children and grandchildren, 10 percent for women, 10 percent for people of underdeveloped districts, five percent for members of indigenous communities, and one percent for the physically-challenged people.