We strongly condemn the attack on students at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU) in Gopalganj. The students have alleged that the attackers are goons hired by the university VC. According to demonstrators, “outsiders” wielding sticks and sharp weapons attacked them at four different locations while they were on their way to the campus to demonstrate, leaving at least 20 students injured. Even female students were not spared by the assailants, who especially targeted anyone who had dared to record the incident on their mobile phones.
Students of BSMRSTU have been demanding the removal of the VC who has been accused of being involved in corruption and irregularities. As this newspaper reported on Friday, allegations of sexual harassment, nepotism in recruiting teachers and other employees, and corruption in development projects have also been made against him. Thousands of student protesters have been demanding a fair probe into the allegations since Thursday, with a section of them going on a fast-unto-death.
The allegations themselves are extremely serious and demand investigation. But the latest string of attacks on students with deadly weapons makes it even worse. And to top it all off, the authorities have severed power and water connections to the university’s dormitories and shut the dining halls, the students alleged, in a bid to force them off campus and to stop them from protesting.
These harsh measures by the authorities—in complete disregard for the welfare of the students, many of whom have no place to go at such short notice—are simply appalling. Instead of resorting to such tactics, the authorities could have tried listening to the students’ grievances and assured them of a fair inquiry into the various allegations.
Despite the regretful series of events, we hope the authorities will now look into the matter with greater urgency and initiate the long-due investigations as per the students’ demand. Parallel to that, law enforcers should investigate the attacks on student protesters, apprehend the assailants and beef up measures to prevent the recurrence of any such incidents.