Bangladesh Chhatra League, pro-Awami League student body, yesterday announced forming committees at all private universities as part of its greater goal to fight militancy in the country.
“We will form committees of Chhatra League in each of the 92 or 93 private universities. Wherever there is a campus, there will be a Chhatra League committee,” said BCL President Saifur Rahman Sohag.
Speaking at an “emergency meeting" on creating awareness against militancy in the capital yesterday, he claimed that militancy is growing in the campuses where there are no activities of the BCL.
State Minister for Textiles and Jute Mirza Azam and former BCL leaders welcomed the announcement, arguing that a section of students get involved in militant activities in the absence of progressive political activities in private universities.
However, some of them observed that all the private universities should not be held responsible for militant activities of a few students. There are also problems of extremist ideologies among the students of public universities, they added.
Speakers at the programme said the militant attacks mean holding back the fast progress of Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. They also called upon around 20 lakh BCL activists to establish strong resistance by strengthening their committees across the country.
The programme was organised by the BCL central committee at Bangladesh University of Textiles auditorium.
The meeting was organised against the backdrop of two recent militant attacks -- one at Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan on July 1 and the other near Sholakia Eid congregation on July 7 -- that killed over two dozens people, including foreigners.
The repeated attacks have rocked the country, drawing global attention. Some of the attackers were found to be former students of an English medium school and a reputed private university.
Apart from those two large-scale attacks, religious minorities, progressive writers and bloggers came under attacks.
Addressing the programme as the chief guest, Mirza Azam said the Private University Act-2010 has no provision that restricts politics in the universities.
“Then why the Chhatra League was not able to form committees in the last six years?” he questioned.
Azam, who was a parliamentary standing committee member on education ministry between 2009 and 2014, said most of about 40 private universities approved before 2005 were owned by the BNP-Jamaat men.
Ranging from teachers to staff of those universities, most were Jamaat-minded, he alleged, adding that it was very likely that those universities inspired rightist ideologies.
Since 2009, the ruling AL government approved over 40 private universities, which Azam claimed, were owned by progressive people.
"Now there is a balance,” he said, adding that there are about eight lakh students in the private universities; they do not have any political ambition.
“In that case, it is natural that militants would be created there,” said Azam, also a central AL League leader.
He alleged that there are many private universities that make money by "selling certificates". They can't do it if student politics is there, he added.
The state minister also claimed that the conspirators of the Bangabandhu killing were basically behind the rise of militancy in Bangladesh.
Azam also said the banned Islamist parties -- Ansarullah Bangla Team, Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) or Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) -- are all branches of Jamaat-e-Islami that opposed the very birth of Bangladesh.
Former BCL president Liaqat Sikder claimed that a few students of some private universities were involved in Hizb ut-Tahrir activities, but the authorities of those institutions did not play their due role in stopping this.
He advised the BCL leadership to select talented and regular students for the committees in the private universities so that others get inspiration to join student politics.
Former BCL president HM Badiuzzaman Sohag, Dhaka University's IBA Associate Professor Rezaul Karim, Independent University of Bangladesh Lecturer Mehedi Mansur, East West University Lecturer Mamun Al Rashid and BCL General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain, among others, spoke on the occasion.