Protesters demanding reinstatement of the 30 percent quota for freedom fighters' children and grandchildren in class-I and class-II government jobs yesterday called an indefinite countrywide blockade.
From now on, highways, railways, and waterways would be blocked, said Prof AKM Jamal Uddin, spokesperson for the platform Muktijuddho Moncho.
Making the call during a rally at Shahbagh intersection, Prof Jamal said, “We do not want to live as third-class citizens of the country and we did not come here to beg. We took to the streets to realise our logical demands.”
The blockade would continue until the quota was reinstated in all government recruitments, he said.
For the fourth consecutive day, protestors occupied Shahbagh yesterday. A few hundred protesters started thronging the busy intersection around 2:30pm for the rally, aggravating traffic jams.
Defying rain, members of Muktujoddha Sangsad Santan Command Jashore, Rajshahi, Netrakona, Mymensingh, Chattogram, Nilphamari, Panchagarh, Sirajganj, and Rajshahi University units started their agitation putting barriers at the intersection.
They had suspended the blockade of Shahbagh for 14 hours, from 1:00am to 3:00pm, so that the 51st convocation of Dhaka University could be held smoothly.
At the rally, the protestors demanded that the cabinet during its meeting tomorrow cancel the October-4 gazette that abolished the quota system.
“The gazette abolishing the quota system is contrary to the spirit of the Liberation War,” said Prof Jamal, also a teacher of DU.
Speakers at the rally alleged that a conspiracy by Jamaat-Shibir men resulted in the quota system getting abolished and that the conspiracy was hatched to oust the pro-liberation forces from power.
“The review committee, formed to evaluate the quota system, has intentionally misguided the prime minister. That was nothing but a conspiracy against the government,” said Al Mamun, DU unit president of Muktijoddha Sangsad Santan Command.
The traffic chaos triggered by the blockade of Shahbagh and the rally caused many to suffer yesterday.
People were stranded in long tailback on adjacent streets. Transport were hard to come by and many were seen walking to their destinations.
Meanwhile, some 30 physically challenged students of Rajshahi University, under the banner “Bangladesh Pratibandhi Shikkharthi Oikya Parishad” formed a human chain on the campus yesterday demanding five percent quota in class-I and class-II government jobs.
They also demanded reservation of 10 percent quota for class-III and class-IV jobs.
Earlier in the day, nearly 30 students under the banner "Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Parishad” staged a sit-in at the main gate of the university demanding reinstatement of the five percent quota for indeginous people.
The agitating students also blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway for an hour and a half, halting vehicular movement.
On October 4, the government issued a circular abolishing the quota system for class-I and class-II jobs in the civil service.
According to the circular, recruitments to grade-9 (class-I) and grade-10 to 13 (class-II) at all government departments, autonomous, and semi-autonomous institutions, would be based solely on merit.
Until then, about 56 percent of government jobs had been reserved for candidates from various quotas. Of this, 30 percent were for freedom fighters' children and grandchildren, 10 percent for women, 10 percent for people of underdeveloped districts, five percent for members of indigenous communities.