President now ‘our only hope’
Protesting students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology are waiting for President Abdul Hamid's response to their open letter sent to Bangabhaban on January 18.
As their discussion with the Education Minister Dipu Moni early Sunday failed to bring a solution and no further meeting was called in till Monday afternoon, the students now say the president, who is also the chancellor of the university, is their only hope.
During a press briefing yesterday afternoon, a spokesperson for the students said, "After the first formal virtual meeting, we tried to communicate with the education minister. But we could not as she urged us to withdraw the hunger strike before the meeting.
"We wrote an open letter with signatures we collected to support our demand, to the president and sent it to the Bangabhaban. Now, we await his response."
Another protester said, "Our protest is logical and there is no involvement of any vested interest. People in responsible sectors are being given wrong information about our protests."
Over the last few days, Dipu Moni, Hasan Mahmud, minister for information and broadcasting, Dhaka University Teachers Association and Bangladesh University Parishad in different programmes and statements have said vested quarters might be involved with the students' movement.
However, University Teachers' Network also expressed solidarity by observing a symbolic hunger strike yesterday from 12:00pm to 3:00pm in front of Dhaka University's Aparajeyo Bangla.
On January 13, a group of resident students began demonstrations alleging that their dormitory's provost, Zafrin Ahmed Liza, misbehaved with a student.
On January 16, police fired rubber bullets and threw sound grenades on the agitating students, triggering a clash that left over 30 students injured.
The students that night started their protest demanding the resignation of VC Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed.
Twenty-four students on January 19 started a fast-unto-death programme. Five more joined them over the last two days.
Of them, one left the hunger strike due to his father's cardiac arrest, while 15 others have been hospitalised. The rest are still continuing the programme in front of the vice-chancellor's residence.
Meanwhile, utility resources at the VC's residence are running out as the students have barred general entry and cut off power connection since Sunday afternoon.
Seeking anonymity, a staffer of the residence said water supply and power generator fuel are running out.
They also informed that the VC is still physically well and an assistant proctor, who was confined with the VC, has also fallen ill.
VC Farid Uddin Ahmed could not be contacted over phone.
According to a press release from the JU public relations office yesterday, Farid apologised to Jahangirnagar University students and teachers for his earlier remarks on female students of JU.
He also apologised to JU VC Prof Dr Farzana Islam, over phone saying that his remark "had been edited and disseminated on social media".