Quota Reform Movement in Bangladesh: BCL men were responsible
12:00 AM, July 18, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:30 PM, July 18, 2018

BCL men were responsible

Says a group of DU teachers about Sunday's assault

A group of Dhaka University teachers yesterday held Bangladesh Chhatra League responsible for Sunday's assault on teachers and students and said the student body had turned into "goons".

"No matter what the minister [Obaidul Quader] or the party's [BCL] general secretary says, I'm asserting that they're Chhatra League activists; they have turned into goons,” said Abdur Razzaque Khan, an associate professor of the mass communication and journalism department of the university.

“I do not know where they study, [that they] do not have any respect for teachers. I have not seen such behaviour in my teaching and journalism career spanning 20 years,” Razzaque said at a press conference.

The conference, under the banner of “Teachers Against Repression”, was organised by a section of DU teachers, who have been vocal against the attacks on quota reformists.

It was held at the teachers' lounge of TSC two days after a group of BCL men swooped on a procession of teachers and students demanding release of detained quota leaders and assaulted three teachers of the university. 

However, BCL leaders denied the accusation while Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader also skirted the issue of the body's involvement in the assault.

After the assault, Quader on the same day said he did not know whether BCL activists had carried out the attacks on quota reformists as they did not have any committee right now.

Criticising the BCL leadership, Razzaque said they did not know their history and glory.

“Can you compare Mr Tofael's or Mr Razzaque's Chhatra League with this Chhatra League. They are simply a group of hooligans, creating anarchy on the campus,” he said.

Razzaque also claimed to have been threatened over phone from an unknown number for joining the protest. “Administration is not taking any steps. Where can we get security?” he asked.

He said he had filed a general diary with Shahabgah Police Station seeking security.

Quota reformists have also said BCL men attacked them at least 13 times in the last three months, injuring around 68 students of four universities.

But the general secretary of the recently dissolved central unit of BCL, SM Jakir Hosain, claimed that the incidents were scuffles between two groups of quota reformists caused by internal conflict.

“Some BCL members may have been involved in this [quota reform movement] but the organisation is not,” said Jakir.

“Students of different political parties took part in the quota reform protest spontaneously, in which members of the pro-government student organisation also joined,” said Samina Luthfa, associate professor of the sociology department, while reading out a statement.

But the protestors were being suppressed in different ways ever since they started demonstrations demanding gazette notification on reforming the quota system, she alleged.

Recalling Sunday's incident, Samina said some BCL men obstructed the teachers from holding a human chain and used loud speakers to hurl abuses at them. “The BCL men then swooped on the teachers' procession and beat up the students and assaulted the teachers too,” she said.

She added that instead of taking action against the attackers, the university authorities were taking action against the injured protestors, making disparaging comments.

Samina also alleged that the authorities were trying to spread fear among the protestors so that they would not hold any further protests.

She claimed that no one from the proctorial body or law enforcers were present during the assault.

“When we contacted the proctor after the attack at the [Central] Shaheed Minar, we were asked that why we had not taken permission for the protest,” said Fahmidul Haq, associate professor of the mass communication and journalism department. He pointed out that there was no clause in the University Act-1973 requiring the need for permission to hold rallies inside campus.

“Another group held a rally before ours at the [Central] Shaheed Minar. I don't think they took permission for that,” he added.

Speaking at yesterday's conference, Tanzimuddin Khan, an associate professor of the international relations department, said they did not instigate the students to boycott classes.

“We are doing our duty. We are neither supporting nor instigating them to boycott classes. So, those who want to attend classes can do so and those who do not will not,” he said.

Professor Abdul Mannan of the international relations department and Professor Munasir Kamal of the English department were present during the conference.

After the conference, the teachers declared that they would hold a “teachers' solidarity assembly” at the foot of Aparajeyo Bangla around 11:00am tomorrow and arrange a cultural programme against repression at Kalabhaban on July 23.

They said they would also send a letter to Dhaka University Teachers' Association asking them to take immediate steps regarding the assault on three teachers.

A memorandum would also be sent to the university's chancellor demanding that the academic dignity of the university is upheld and steps are taken against the repression, they added.

Meanwhile, a group of DU students yesterday submitted a memorandum to the VC demanding resignation of the proctor for his failure to ensure security of the students.

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