Quota activists plan to be on streets again
Quota reformists would launch fresh agitation since the government issued circular for 40th BCS and had not published the gazette on reforms to civil service recruitments as per their demand.
“We would wage tougher agitation and would not leave the streets until our demands are met,” said Nurul Haque Nur, a joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad which is spearheading the quota-reforms movement.
He said they have been compelled to take to the streets again as the government appears insincere in reforming the existing quota system in Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS).
Around 11:00am yesterday, they at a press conference in Dhaka University demanded the gazette notification before the circular of the 40th BCS exams was issued. But around two hours later, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) released the circular for 1,903 civil service jobs.
However, Chairman Muhammed Sadique of the BPSC told The Daily Star that the decision of the government on quota system would be followed in the recruitment of cadres in 40th BCS.
He said 200 cadres would be recruited for administration, 72 for police, 25 for foreign affairs, 24 for taxes, 32 for customs and excise and 800 for education.
Talking to The Daily Star, Nur said, “We thought that they would publish the circular for 40th BCS after publishing the gazette. We are now left with no option but to stage further protests.”
At the press conference in front of Dhaka University central library, another joint convener Bin Yamin Mollah had threatened tougher agitation if the gazette was not published before the 40th BCS circular.
The parishad placed a three-point demand including withdrawal of all cases against the quota reformists, publication of the gazette notification and ensuring punishment of those who attacked quota reformists.
Five months have passed since the prime minister in parliament had made a specific announcement over the quota reforms issue but no steps have been taken, it said.
It alleged that false and fabricated cases had been filed against the protestors and they had been tortured in remand. These were done to suppress the protest, it added.
“We had set August 31 deadline for issuing the gazette but as Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had asked the quota reformists to have patience, the students waited,” Yamin said.
Almost 10 days have passed since the deadline expired and no activity centring publication of the gazette has been seen, he said.
In April, students of public and private universities across the country took to the streets demanding reforms in the quota system. They blocked key points in the capital and roads and highways elsewhere.
In the wake of mass protests, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 11 announced in parliament scrapping of the quota systems.
On July 2, the government formed a seven-member committee to “review, reform or cancel” the quota system and it was asked to submit a report within 15 workings days. On July 19, the committee was given 90 working days as it could not finish collecting information about the system.
However, the premier on July 12 citing a High Court order said it was not possible to reform the freedom fighters' quota.
Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam, who leads the seven-member committee, on August 13 told journalists that they had suggested abolishment of almost all quotas in civil service and to prioritise merit-based recruitment.
At present, about 56 percent of government jobs are reserved for candidates from various quotas.