Rowdy way to fulfil demands | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 26, 2011

Rowdy way to fulfil demands

Jagannath students block roads for hours, vandalise at least 20 vehicles


Students of Jagannath University vandalise vehicles near High Court in the capital yesterday, demanding continuation of government funding for their university. The students also stopped the sports utility vehicle, inset, of the lawmaker from Mymensingh-6 constituency during the demonstration. Photo: STAR

Disgruntled students of Jagannath University staged rowdy protest on Dhaka streets yesterday demanding government funding of the university beyond 2012 and ridding its dorms of illegal occupiers.
They blockaded roads for several hours and vandalised 20 vehicles setting off a chain reaction that paralysed many Dhaka streets with severe traffic jams from 10:30am.
Around 30 students were injured when police charged truncheons to disperse the agitating students. Shahbagh police detained 18 students from Jatiya Press Club and High Court areas while Kotwali police picked up two in front of the university campus in Old Dhaka.
Witnesses said over 3,000 students brought out two processions--one at 10:00am and another at 11:00am--from the university campus obstructing transport movement on the roads from the campus to the Jatiya Press Club.
They also demonstrated in front of the Jatiya Press Club around noon triggering severe traffic jams. A handful of students went on the rampage and vandalised several vehicles stuck in the jam.
At one stage, police resorted to charging truncheons to disperse them.
Agitating students alleged that some activists of Jagannath University BCL unit beat them up during the demonstration near the High Court.
According to the Jagannath University Act, the government will discontinue funding the university after 2012 and the university would have to run on its own income.
Several students told The Daily Star that they brought out yesterday's processions as part of their continuous movement for last two years. They said unless clause-27 (4) of the Jagannath University Act is amended (which deals with funding of the institution), study cost for each student would double and be almost like that of private universities.
“Although Jagannath University is a public university, it will gradually turn into a private university day by day,” said one of the students.
Many students alleged that the students are facing acute residential crisis, but there are no initiative to recover their dormitories from illegal occupiers. The students also demand university buses for their transport and removal of a Bangladesh Bank branch office which is inside their campus.
Talking to The Daily Star, Jagannath University Proctor Ashok Kumar Saha said Vice-Chancellor Prof Mezba Uddin with the chairmen of different departments rushed to the spot and persuaded the students to leave the streets on assurances of considering their demands.
“The law ministry is already working to amend the clause and several inter-ministerial meetings have been held as part of the process,” said the proctor.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said the decision on funding Jagannath University will be made after consulting all stakeholders.
"I spoke to the university's vice-chancellor and the members of the University Grants Commission (UGC). We will find a way to solve this problem through discussions with everyone," he told journalists at his Secretariat office yesterday.
When asked whether the law will be amended, the minister said, "I cannot say whether it will be amended unless a decision is made after talks."
On the students' fear that semester fees will rise, he said, "We are not dismissing their logic… it is expected that students will be worried with rising education costs.” But, vandalism cannot be the solution, Nahid said, adding, “Creating such disorder by destroying people's properties taints the image of students.”
He urged the universities to increase their internal revenue. He said it is not possible to develop everything with funds from the government.

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