Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, the students’ platform demanding reformation to the quota system in government jobs, has announced to form human chains in Dhaka University (DU) and colleges and universities around the country on Wednesday.
Their nationwide program scheduled to begin at 11am is aimed at pushing for immediate publication of a gazette notification abolishing the quota system based on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's assurance.
The students at a press briefing in front of DU Central Library on Tuesday also alleged that the government was “staging a drama” instead of issued the gazette to keep the movement at bay.
Joint Convener of the platform Nurul Haque Nur: “Earlier, we halted the movement after Awami League leaders Obaidul Quader and Jahangir Kabir Nanak assured us that the government will publish the gazette following the prime minister’s return.”
He said 27 days have passed since the prime minister declared in parliament that the quota system would be scrapped. “But there has been no visible progress, and that is building up frustration among general students.
“The government on April 9 had said a solution to the crisis will be provided by May 7. The prime minister announced her decision on April 11. We halted all protests since then. However, the quota gazette is yet to be published.
“We have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations so far. But we will wage a tougher movement with the students across the country if the authorities concerned do not pay any heed to our demand as soon as possible,” Nur said.
Rashed Khan, another joint convener, alleged: “The government is playing tricks on us by promising to abolish the quota system but not publishing a gazette. The cases against the protestors have also not been withdrawn, adding to our frustration.”
He claimed that some vested quarters were conspiring against the protesting students and trying to label their movement an anti-government one. “But we will not step back from our justified demands.”
The movement leaders also alleged that various law enforcement agencies were harassing their family members and conspiring to put them in “political problems.”
On April 8, thousands of students had demonstrated in Shahbagh and DU areas as they came together to protest the current 56% quota reserved for selected groups in the government recruitment tests.
Over 50 students were injured in violent clashes between the police, Bangladesh Chhatra League activists and the demonstrators. Later, universities all across the country showed their solidarity by participating in the movement.
On that night, during the clashes in Shahbagh and DU areas, a group of people had attacked and vehemently vandalized the DU vice-chancellor’s residence.
Due to the tension created by the clashes and the attack, the government was forced to come to terms with the protestors. Later, the prime minister announced to scrap the quota system.
At least five cases were later filed against unnamed persons at Shahbagh and Ramna police stations over the violence and attack on DU VC’s house on the campus.
The protesters have been on the streets since mid-February pushing for their five demands – reduction of quota in public service recruitment to 10% from 56%, recruitment of jobseekers in vacant posts on the basis of merit if eligible candidates are not found under the quota, an end to special recruitment tests for quota candidates and a single age limit for all jobseekers.
Currently, 30% quotas are reserved in government jobs for freedom fighters’ children and grandchildren, 10% for women, 10% for districts lagging behind, 5% for ethnic minorities and 1% for physically challenged people.