When a group of teachers was staging a rally at Dhaka University yesterday against repression on students and teachers, Chhatra League men assaulted some quota reformists on the campus of Chittagong University.
The BCL men also showed audacity to several teachers who stood by the students.
With this, Chhatra League men have attacked the activists of quota reform movement at least 15 times since the demonstrations began in April.
The attacks left over 75 students of four universities injured. But neither the police nor the university authorities took action against any of the attackers.
Instead, some central quota reform leaders were allegedly picked up by BCL men and handed over to police. Later, the leaders were shown arrested in different cases.
Meanwhile, the tenure of the committee to “review, reform or cancel” the quota system in public service was extended by 90 more working days yesterday.
The public administration ministry issued a gazette, signed by Secretary Faiz Ahmed, in this regard.
The committee, led by Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam, was formed on July 2 and was given 15 days to submit its report. The deadline would expire on Monday.
Taking a firm stance against the BCL attacks and terming them outrageous, the group of teachers held a solidarity rally in front of Aparajeyo Bangla on the DU campus.
At the programme, organised under the banner of “Teachers against Repression”, speakers demanded immediate release of detained students and protested the assaults on students and teachers across the country.
Around 60 teachers from Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Jagannath University and Buet as well as over 300 students took part in the rally presided over by Gitiara Nasreen, a teacher of DU's Mass Communication and Journalism department.
Many of the teachers said Chhatra League has become “more frightening than the student organisation of Ayub Khan's regime”.
Prof Akmal Hossain, a former teacher of International Relations department at DU, said, “Students were tortured during the regime of dictator Ayub Khan who had his own student organisation [National Students Federation].
“But the activists of Chhatra League are even more aggressive. Chhatra league not only beat up protesters but also assaulted teachers,” he said. “This era is more frightening than the era of NSF.”
Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University's Economics department said, “The prime minister has said she could not understand the rationale behind the quota reform movement. Had she given an hour to students and teachers [to discuss the issue with her] she would have understood the logic behind the protest.”
He then accused DU proctor AKM Golam Rabbani of protecting the BCL activists who attacked the reformists.
“The activities of present BCL are more aggressive than that of Ayub Khan's student organisation NSF. What could be a bigger attack than this on the spirit of Liberation War?” he asked.
“We also see police leaving when Chhatra League attacks,” he said.
Prof Nasreen Wadud, chairperson of Dhaka University's Psychology department, said she took part in the 1969 Mass Upsurge as a BCL activist and she was proud of that. “But the name of the organisation has now become a slang.”
Criticising the vice-chancellor and the proctor, she said, “They are not worthy of being guardians of this university. They would have done something had they got any self respect.”
Ahmed Kamal of DU's history department said he joined the protest on being “driven by his conscience”.
“Do your duty properly forgetting that you were a Chhatra League activist,” he said addressing the proctor.
Prof CR Abrar said, “I don't have any political affiliation. I came here on my own. I have expressed my support for the demonstration.
“We may be small in number but our moral strength is quite big,” he said.
Fahmidul Haq of DU Mass Communication and Journalism department said students were being tortured for taking part in a peaceful protest while teachers were being assaulted for giving moral support to their students.
“We were told that we are instigating the students. The allegation is totally baseless. We want the return of the atmosphere congenial for studies,” he said.
After the rally ended, Gitiara Nasreen placed a six-point demand including punishment of those who attacked the students and assaulted the teachers, withdrawal of cases against quota reform leaders and return of stability on the campus.
The teachers later brought out a procession which ended at the same spot after parading through Ducsu. The teachers would also hold a cultural rally against repression in Bot Tola area of the campus on July 23.
Meanwhile, students of Jahangirnagar University continued their protest yesterday by boycotting regular classes and examinations.
Around 200 students formed a human chain on the campus to press home their four-point demand, including for quota reformation in civil service.
BCL ATTACK AT CU
A group of Chhatra League men, led by Chittagong University BCL Deputy Secretary Rakibul Hasan and activist Tawhidul Islam, swooped on a human chain on the campus around noon, said witnesses.
The programme, organised to denounce the declaration of persona non-grata of two CU teachers, was attended by several students and teachers.
The BCL men snatched the banner of the programme from the teachers and assaulted several protesters, reports our CU correspondent quoting witnesses.
They showed audacity to the teachers, said Saima Alam, an assistant professor of the university's Communication and Journalism department.
One of the injured students was Arif Hossain of the same department.
Later around 1:30pm, BCL men beat up another student, Emon Kaiser, at the ground floor of dean's office.
Of the attackers, Rakib and Tawhidul were masters' students of Dramatics and History departments respectively. Tawhidul is accused in three cases. Earlier, he was suspended from the university for beating a journalist.
Contacted, Rakib said, "Two teachers were trying to provoke students and other teachers. It is our duty to stop anyone who supports those two teachers and we have done exactly the same today”.
Tawhidul echoed the statement of Rakib.
Recently, CU BCL has declared Maidul Islam, assistant professor of sociology department, and Khandakar Ali Ar Raji, assistant professor of journalism department, persona non-grata on the campus over their Facebook posts in favour of the quota reform movement.
On July 17, BCL submitted a memorandum to the university's vice-chancellor against the two teachers.
After yesterday's attack, the protesters submitted a memorandum to the CU proctor's office seeking security and demanding action against the BCL men.
Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, Bangladesh Chhatra Union urged the university authorities to identify and punish the attackers from the BCL.
'PLOY OF BNP-JAMAAT'
The government yesterday said the quota reform movement had become “a ploy of BNP-Jamaat who wants to destabilise the country”.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali briefed this to foreign diplomats at State Guest House Padma in the capital.
He said even after assurances from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a vested quarter “high jacked the movement and created anarchy on campuses”, reports UNB.