The government yesterday issued a circular abolishing the quota system for class-I and class-II jobs in the civil service amid demonstrations for reinstating quota for the freedom fighters' descendants and indigenous communities.
The public administration ministry issued the circular with immediate effect.
According to the circular, the recruitment from grade-9 (class-I) and grade-10 to 13 (class-II) at all government departments, autonomous or semi-autonomous institutions, and various corporations will be based solely on merit.
The government documents now mention "grade" instead of "class" while referring to the tiers in public service.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Bangladesh Public Service Commission Muhammed Sadique said recruitment through the 40th BCS would be done based on merit, reports UNB.
Yesterday's circular, scrapping the 46-year-old quota system, came a day after the cabinet went with a high-powered government committee's recommendation in this regard. However, the quota system will remain in force for class-III and class-IV jobs.
Until the abolition, 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 and one percent for physically challenged people.
The quota system was introduced through an executive order in 1972 and had been amended several times since. From 1972 to 1976, 20 percent was recruited on merit. Merit-based recruitment was increased to 40 percent in 1976 which continued until 1985 when the percentage of merit-based recruitment was upped to 45 percent.
Hours after Wednesday's cabinet approval, protesters demanding freedom fighters' quota be reinstated kept the capital's Shahbagh intersection blocked for several hours.
The protests continued yesterday with demonstrators putting barriers at Shahbagh intersection around 7:00am. Those demanding quotas for indigenous communities formed a human chain there in the afternoon.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan met the protesters around 9:00pm and requested them not to block the road today since it would cause students sitting for the medical colleges' admission test to suffer.
The protesters said they would withdraw their demonstration for nine hours from 6:00am today. They will take to Shahbagh after 3:00pm.
Five different platforms demanding quotas for freedom fighters' children and grandchildren staged sit-ins and chanted slogans on loudspeakers throughout yesterday.
Commuters suffered a lot as the intersection remained closed to traffic.
"Scrapping the freedom fighter quota in civil service goes against the spirit of the Liberation War," said Shiekh Atikur Babu, president of Muktijoddha Sangsad Santan Command.
Former president of the platform Mehedi Hasan said they would file a writ petition with the Supreme Court, challenging the scrapping of the quota system.
"We have not been able to take any legal steps as the gazette was not published, but now we would file a writ petition," he said.
The activists also demanded removing family members of Jamaat-Shibir men and war criminals from government offices and taking actions against those who make derogatory remarks about Liberation War, freedom fighters and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on social media.
Adivasi Quota Sangrakkhan Parishad activists at the human chain said they would stage a sit-in at Nadda area of Gulshan at 3:00pm tomorrow.
In Rajshahi University, around 30 students, including the members of Muktijoddha Sangsad Santan Command demonstrated at the main gate.
With banners and placards, they began a sit-in around 9:30am and later blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway.
The protesters also lit a fire in the middle of the road. They withdrew around noon.
In February this year, a large number of students of public universities and jobseekers took to the streets demanding reforms to the quota system.
The demonstrations intensified in April when students across the country joined in.
In the wake of mass protests, the prime minister on April 11 announced in parliament that the quota system would be scrapped.
But as no gazette notification was issued in this regard, students involved in the movement began boycotting classes and examinations in all universities and colleges.
On June 30 and July 1, alleged activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League attacked protesters at Dhaka and Rajshahi universities, leaving several students injured. In the following days, law enforcers arrested a number of quota reform leaders.
The movement lost momentum following the arrests and attacks on demonstrators.
40TH BCS RECRUITMENT ON MERIT
Chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission Muhammed Sadique yesterday said the recruitment through the 40th BCS would be done based on merit, not quota, reports UNB.
"The quota system won't be applicable in the recruitment," he told UNB, adding that it was mentioned in the circular of the 40th BCS that the cadres will be appointed on merit.
Sadique, however, said the quota system will be there in the recruitment of the 39th special BCS and other examinations as those are already under process.
The 40th BCS application process began on September 30 and will continue till November 15.