Keeping universities closed is no solution | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 04, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 04, 2007


Keeping universities closed is no solution

Time to put the tragic incident behind us

It is time to reflect on the recent incidents around Dhaka University again. We need hardly reiterate our feeling that the violence, which erupted on August 20, 21 and 22 was a matter of deep sorrow for all of us. It should not have happened. But it did, and we are aware of the repercussions that followed. Both the student community and the army were affected and, in a broad psychological sense, it was a whole nation that suffered in those few days.
Now, however, comes the moment for everyone to reconsider the issue of the closure of Dhaka University and other universities in the country. It is clear that students, teachers and guardians are all of the opinion that the universities should be reopened at the earliest. And indications are there that the army too would like this whole sad chapter of violence and the measures that followed to be closed in order for everyone to move on. We believe the time is now opportune for all parties involved in the recent crisis to initiate a dialogue that will fully restore normal conditions at DU and other universities.
It is heartening to know that moves are afoot already for a dialogue between the DU authorities and the education ministry on what needs to be done from here on. Such a step must be accelerated and broadened to include all the parties involved in the untoward happenings. The truth is that excesses have been committed, on all sides, which is why there is today a need for a careful handling of the post-violence scene at DU.
The need for care in handling stems from the fears that yet dog the student community. Reports have come in of students discarding their identity cards for fear of being hauled up for questioning. A number of teachers have allegedly stayed away from their homes especially since some of their colleagues were arrested. Added to such a sense of gloom are reports that the authorities have been trying to identify individuals through watching video footage of the incidents. That last bit can only increase the sense of fear as it may well lead to a persecution of people who did not participate in the violence but only happened to be caught up in the melee.
Today, a wholly new beginning has to be made through putting all the sad, sordid happenings behind us. This can be done through initiating certain steps. First, we suggest that a general amnesty be decreed through which all general cases are withdrawn and all detained university teachers are freed on bail. Second, this move will set the stage for a meaningful dialogue that will in turn lead to a rapprochement between all parties.
Finally, let us say that just as we remain proud of our military, for their international peace keeping and internal disaster management role, so also we are proud of the contributions made to our history by the students and academics of Dhaka University. Warts and all, today's generation of students and teachers enjoys a certain status among broad society. That must be kept in mind if we are to move on.

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