Jahangirnagar University: Of goats and burglars | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 28, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:20 AM, June 28, 2020

Jahangirnagar University: Of goats and burglars

It's been more than three months since Jahangirnagar University's (JU) lone residential campus has been empty. On March 17, the university authorities asked students to vacate all dormitories due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this is not a standalone case, as all educational institutions across the country have remained closed during this time.

What's different about JU is the sheer disarray of its deserted dormitories. For example, if one was to visit the Shaheed Salam Barkat Hall at the beginning, one was more likely to find a goat pen there, rather than the usual hustle and bustle of students.

Alongside the goats, the security of the dorms are another sorry tale. On the night of June 11, at least 17 rooms of Pritilata Hall -- one of the female dormitories -- were broken into and stolen from by yet unidentified burglars.

Meanwhile, students from Jahanara Imam Hall -- another female dorm -- have also alleged that valuables are being stolen from their empty rooms every now and then.

Unable to be present physically, the students are passing their days at home worrying about all the valuables they've left at their dorm rooms, which they didn't really have the time to take home when they left the campus in a hurry.

In light of this, Jahangirnagar Cultural Alliance and Samajtrantik Chhatra Front demanded security on the campus and compensation for the victims of burglary in a press release issued on June 15.

Asked about the security issue, JU Provost Committee President Prof Bashir Ahmed said, "We are facing something of a crisis as some of our guards have tested positive for Covid-19. However, though understaffed, we have already given direction to all provosts to take appropriate steps to ensure security at the halls."

To investigate the incidents at Pritilata Hall, a four-member probe body has been formed, said Ayesha Siddika, provost of the hall.

She also said the university authorities will ensure compensation in case any student lost any documents.

And as for the goats -- on June 20, a residential student of Shaheed Salam Barkat Hall posted some photos of the benign herbivores on social media. Following his post, this somewhat sensational news made a round on social media this month.

The goats belong to hall provost Prof Ali Azam Talukder. Sources at the hall told this correspondent that Prof Azam started rearing the cattle as a hobby since the dormitory closed.

Requesting anonymity, a guard of the hall said, "We are rearing these animals according to our provost's direction. We are just following orders."

Contacted, the provost confirmed the goat rearing but denied pressuring guards over it.

"Rearing goats is a hobby of mine. But I never pressurised anyone to take care of them," he said.

Some students who have come to visit the hall during the vacation have complained of unhygienic conditions around hall premises. Not only has it become really dirty, it now reeks of goat droppings, they complained.

However, after the news broke on the media, the goat rearing project has been shifted back to the provost's own premises, hall sources told this correspondent.

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