• Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
  • Last Update : 03:24 am

Quota reform movement: Public university students continue protest across Bangladesh

  • Published at 01:12 am July 4th, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:13 am July 4th, 2018
Left, former Bangladesh Students’ Union leader Baki Billah being dragged by police from a demonstration held in protest of the ongoing attacks and arrests of quota reform activists. Right, DU Professor Fahmidul Haq being assaulted by police when he protested Baki’s detention  Mehedi Hasan
Left, former Bangladesh Students’ Union leader Baki Billah being dragged by police from a demonstration held in protest of the ongoing attacks and arrests of quota reform activists. Right, DU Professor Fahmidul Haq being assaulted by police when he protested Baki’s detention Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Students of Dhaka University (DU) and Rajshahi University (RU) staged human chains and sit-in programs to press home their demands

Students at the public universities across Bangladesh continued their protests on Tuesday demanding immediate action against the activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of Awami League, who brutally assaulted quota reform activists earlier this week. 

Students of Dhaka University (DU) and Rajshahi University (RU) staged human chains and sit-in programs to press home their demands, while protesters at Jahangirnagar University (JU) and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) said they had been threatened by BCL leaders into retreating. 

Meanwhile, BCL members staged their own demonstrations on Tuesday, claiming that the allegations against them were false. 

DU students form human chain 

A section of DU students, under the banner “Students Against Repression,” formed a human chain in front of the Raju Memorial on the campus on Tuesday, demanding that the Chhatra League members who beat up quota reform activists ahead of their scheduled program on Saturday be brought to book. 

“Two days have gone by since Chhatra League assaulted quota reformists, but the university authorities have yet to take any steps against the attackers,” said Abu Raihan Khan, a third-year student at DU. “As human beings, we cannot remain silent in this situation. Hopefully, the university will bring the culprits to book after a fair investigation.”

After the human chain event, protesters went to the office of DU Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani, seeking explanation of his silence over Chhatra League’s attack on quota reformists, but the proctor could not give any satisfying answer and left the office promptly, Raihan further said. 

Meanwhile, leaders of Chhatra League formed a human chain in the TSC area on DU campus under the banner “Don’t spread rumours.”

RU teacher prevented from protest by dept chair

Associate Professor Farid Uddin Khan of the university’s economics department was barred from staging his own protest on Tuesday, sources told the Dhaka Tribune. 

Farid on Monday night had posted on Facebook that he would go to work barefoot the next day and stage an hour-long silent demonstration in front of the grave of Prof Shamsuzzoha, the RU proctor who was shot dead by Pakistan security forces when he tried to protect students demonstrating in front of the campus entrance on February 18, 1969. 

He managed to go to work barefoot, but was prevented by department head Prof KBM Mahbubur Rahman and the RU authorities from going to Zoha’s grave and stand there in silence from 11am to 12pm. 

When asked why Farid had been prevented from staging a peaceful protest, the department chairman told reporters that it was for his own safety.  

Meanwhile, several RU professors joined nearly 500 students in a sit-in demonstration in front of Zoha’s grave at 11am, expressing solidarity with Farid. 

The RU students also demanded a fair investigation into the attack on the quota reform movement’s RU unit Joint Convener Tariqul Islam Tariq, in which a Chhatra League leader beat him with a hammer and broke his right leg. 

They also announced that they would continue their protest today at the same place. 

Meanwhile, Chhatra League activists tried to bring out a procession where the protesters were demonstrating around 12pm, but were turned away by the RU authorities and law enforcement personnel. 

Around 12:15pm, the protesters were also forced to leave. 

RU Proctor Prof Lutfor Rahman said they dispersed both the groups out of fear that another clash might break out.

JU, SUST students threatened to silence by Chhatra League

JU and SUST activists refrained from staging protests on their campuses on Tuesday out of fear that they would be attacked again, several quota reform activists told the Dhaka Tribune. 

“The Chhatra League leaders are still threatening the activists into retreating. We will announce our next program after discussing it with the general students,” Shakil Uzzaman, convener of the movement’s JU unit, told the Dhaka Tribune. 

SUST unit Convener Nasir Uddin also said Chhatra League leaders were threatening quota reform activists on the campus. “We will continue our protest as per the instruction from the movement’s central leaders,” he added. 

Police foil guardian-citizen protest in Dhaka

Police foiled a human chain organized by guardians of university students and concerned citizens in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Tuesday, snatching away their banners.  

The citizens had held the human chain to protest the ongoing attacks on quota reformists by the Chhatra League. 

“Police did not tell us not to hold any program here. We told them that we would continue our protest. Later, they snatched away our banner and tried to drive away the attendees. They also arrested two of our protesters,” said Enamul Haque, one of the organizers. 

The protesters said the quota reform activists were conducting a valid movement, and the government had accepted their demand, but had yet to publish any gazette. 

“When our children and students are attacked, we cannot remain silent. The attack on the quota reformists by the ruling party’s student wing was horrible and inhuman. This continuous persecution of the protesting students is unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh,” said lawyer Hasnat Quaiyum, one of the protesters. 



Dhaka Tribune reporter Mahadi Al Hasnat, DU Correspondent Fahim Reza Shovon, RU Correspondent Sirajus Salekin, JU Correspondent Shoyaib Rahman Sajeeb, and SUST Correspondent Zahid Hasan contributed to this report