Sust hunger strike ends
After 163 hours, 28 students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology ended their hunger strike yesterday at the request of former Sust professors Muhammed Zafar Iqbal and Yasmeen Haque.
The demonstrations demanding the resignation of Vice-Chancellor Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed will continue, says a spokesperson for the demonstrators. A new demonstration plan would be chalked out after discussions among the students.
Prof Zafar and his wife Prof Yasmeen reached Sust around 4:00am yesterday and talked to the students on hunger strike.
With their one-point demand, 23 students had been on hunger strike since 2:50pm on January 19. Five others joined them on Sunday and Monday.
The professors requested them to end their strike reasoning that their lives were precious.
The students told the couple that they would end their strike together. The 20 students, who had to be hospitalised, were brought back to the campus and all of them ended their strike by drinking water around 10:20am.
Prof Zafar, a renowned writer, and Prof Yasmeen themselves gave water to the students.
Afterwards, Prof Zafar said every young adult was with the students.
"We have been assured by the upper level of the government that your demands will be met. Both the cases will be withdrawn.
"We would have come even if we had not been sure of it, but then we could not have told you to end your hunger strike."
Commending the students, Prof Zafar said, "Rest assured that the system of the universities and vice-chancellors in the country will be fixed because of what you have done here."
The protesters have forced 34 VCs of the country to spend sleepless nights, he said.
On VC Prof Farid, he said, "I do not want to call this person, who is so determined to stay in his post even after seeing all this, a human being. He is a monster."
"Your lives are very precious. There's no point in risking your lives for that man," Prof Zafar said.
He said it was a matter of great sorrow that when the students were attacked by the police, no teacher came forward to tell the police that the students could not be harmed.
"The process of stopping the movement is inhumane, cruel, and monstrous," he said.
Prof Yasmeen said, "After we got the assurance [from the government high-ups], we talked to the students over phone around 8:30pm [Tuesday]. They requested us to come fast as the physical conditions of the students were deteriorating by the hour. We, at that moment, rushed to Sust. We are grateful to the students that they trust us."
The students on hunger strike were taken to hospital for further treatment, said the spokesperson for the protesters.
The spokesperson said, "Our honourable Zafar sir and Yasmeen madam assured us that high officials told them that our demand will be met. As we honour and trust them, we decided to end the hunger strike. But the movement will continue."
However, Education Minister Dipu Moni yesterday said the resignation of the VC was not a solution.
"One VC will go, another VC will come. Problems will remain," she said.
She urged the students to end their demonstrations. "All their allegations and the incidents in the university will be scrutinised. Proper steps will be taken against those who were negligent in duty," she said.
"Here, the teachers, students, university administration, and the government are all on one side. There are no two sides here. We want to resolve the problem through discussions," she said.
FIVE ALUMNI GET BAIL
A Sylhet court yesterday granted bail to five alumni of Sust who had been detained in Dhaka on Monday for donating money to the demonstrators.
The former students -- Reza Noor Muin, Habibur Rahman Khan, AFM Nazmus Sakib Dip, AKM Maruf Hossain and Faisal Ahmed -- were arrested by the CID and later handed over to Sylhet Metropolitan Police on Tuesday.
Among them, AFM Nazmus Sakib Dip was admitted to Shamsuddin Ahmed Hospital after he was diagnosed with Covid.
On Tuesday, Sujat Ahmed Layek, organising secretary of Bangladesh Tanti League's Sylhet district unit, filed a case with Jalalabad Police Station accusing the five and 150 unnamed people for "violating the VC's executive order for closing the university".
According to the case statement, the alumni financed the demonstrations with ill motives and made derogatory posts on Facebook on the VC.
Talking to The Daily Star, plaintiff Sujat said, "Financing a movement is a serious offence, and the financiers and the demonstrators are Jamaat-Shibir men. I filed the case as a concerned citizen."
Sust Teachers Association yesterday condemned the filing of the case and demanded no student be harassed.
Human Rights Forum Bangladesh also condemned the arrest of five alumni in a statement yesterday.
Md Haider Ali Khan, DIG (operations, media and planning) at police headquarters, yesterday said, "The allegation of police action and harassment of Sust students are being investigated and departmental action will be taken against people concerned if found true."
Asked whether donating money was a crime and whether Prof Zafar's donation of Tk 10,000 to the demonstrating students was also a crime, the DIG said, "It is a matter of investigation. Actions would be taken if specific allegations are found against anyone."