Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said she accepted the demand for reformation to the quota system in government jobs as it was what the students wanted and she did not do anything out of anger.
“There was nothing to get angry about… The boys and girls placed the demand and I accepted it. Now what else is there to raise questions about?” she said.
Her remarks came as a response to a question during a press conference at Ganabhaban in Dhaka, which was organized to brief the media about her recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UK and Australia.
Hasina, however, said the way the freedom fighters were humiliated during the movement by relating them with the quota system was very much disgraceful for them.
"The way they were ridiculed and various derogatory remarks were made about them dishonoured the freedom fighters. I will not tolerate disrespecting them," she said.
The prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had engaged himself in rebuilding the war-ravaged country after the independence in 1971.
"For that, he provided special facilities to those lagging behind as well as the freedom fighters through this quota system. That was very much realistic."
Mentioning that some students started the movement against the quota system out of nothing, she said: "They put up barricades on roads and prevented patients from going to hospitals. We tried to convince them and let them know the real scenario of the quota system.
“But the agitating students said they do not want any quota system and I accepted their demand. There was nothing to get angry."
In 1972, Bangabandhu kept aside 30% quota for the freedom fighters, Hasina said. "But after 1975, there was no one to apply for government jobs under that quota. At that time, jobseekers were afraid of disclosing their freedom fighter identities as they knew they would not be eligible for jobs if they disclose this.”
She alleged that although Ziaur Rahman was a freedom fighter, he had formed his government illegally taking the war criminals under trial with him.
The prime minister further alleged that Zia had stopped the war crimes trials, took Bangabandhu’s killers with him, and awarded them indemnity and posts in various foreign missions. "At that time, the 30% freedom fighter quota had remained vacant."
She asked the agitating students whether they know these things.
Hasina said the Awami League government started filling the 30% quota after coming to power.
"But by the time, the freedom fighters had crossed their age limit for applying for government job. Then I made that quota available for the family members of the freedom fighters," she said, adding that the family members mean their children and grandchildren.