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Demonstrators unite, announce new program and demands for quota reform

  • Published at 09:04 pm April 10th, 2018
  • Last updated at 08:53 pm April 11th, 2018
Demonstrators unite, announce new program and demands for quota reform
After a day of division and disagreements, protesters at Dhaka University have come together to renew their call for quota reform and to continue demonstrations until their demands are met. Throughout Tuesday, groups of students continued demonstrations around campus, demanding quota reform. They barricaded the main roads into campus. In the evening, protesters who had refrained from demonstrating during the day made a comeback, announcing new programs and new demands. Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad Joint Convener Rashed Khan made the announcement at a press briefing in front of the Dhaka University (DU) Central Library. They once again took up position at DU’s TSC intersection. On Monday, a 20-member delegation of protesters met with Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, and reached an agreement that the movement would be suspended until May 7, by which time the government would find a solution. But many protesters on the ground rejected the talks and continued to demonstrate. At the press briefing, Rashed Khan said: “We held a meeting with Road Transport Obaidul Quader on Monday and decided that till May 7, the movement will be put on hold. But at the same time, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury called us children of Razakars. We strongly condemn and protest her words.”
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“We gave her till 5pm to withdraw this statement. But she has remained silent. The finance minister has also said quota reform cannot happen before the upcoming budget.” “What these statements convey to us is that they are not thinking about reforming the quota system very soon,” he added. “That is why we are going back to our regular program again.” [caption id="attachment_258285" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhon Parishad leaders at the press briefing in front of the Dhaka University Central Library on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 Fahim Reza Shovon/Dhaka Tribune[/caption]

Call for nationwide demonstrations

The protesters called for a boycott of classes and exams, and asked students of colleges and universities to hold demonstrations on roads indefinitely until demands are met. Rashed said the demonstrations will only stop if the prime minister issues a specific announcement that the quota system will be reformed, and soon. “Although the government has promised it will undertake the treatment of the injured protesters, no one has been in touch. The detained protesters have not been released yet.” He demanded that all protesters detained on April 8-9 be released, that the government arrange medical treatment for injured protesters. Joint conveners Faruq Khan and Mahfuzur Rahman were present among others. Convener Hasan Al Mamun was not seen at the press conference and the protests on yesterday. His phone was also unreachable. Hasan, a Dhaka University student and Chhatra League leader, led the movement for the last two days and was head of the delegation that met Quader.
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Having resolved their differences, protesters under the name of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrokkhon Parishad took out a procession through campus and gathered under the Raju Memorial Sculpture at the TSC intersection. The demonstration ended around 8:30pm and it was announced that they would return at 10am today. Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity, a number of students said they wanted to continue the movement until their demands were met. Ramadan and exams were just around the corner and the movement could lose its momentum if they withdraw now. “This move could be the government’s ruse to slow us down,” one student said. [caption id="attachment_258229" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Students bring out a procession demanding a written statement from the government with the announcement to meet their quota reform demands Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune[/caption]

Police withdrawn

During the day, protesters dissenting with the Parishad held several rallies and processions on campus. They assaulted an assistant sub-inspector of police, Taiful Islam of Dhanmondi police, and vandalized his motorcycle. Police were withdrawn from the campus and instructed not to go there in uniform, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) sources told Bangla Tribune. Meanwhile, DMP Deputy Commissioner (Ramna division) Maruf Hossain Sardar told Dhaka Tribune that no case had been filed over the protests of the last two days. On February 17, students and jobseekers started the movement to press for their five-point demand including a review of the quota system in government jobs. The Dhaka University campus turned into a battlefield between Sunday evening and early Monday as police and demonstrators clashed.

Freedom fighters protest quota demand

Freedom fighters and their children formed human chains in Moulvibazar and Jhenaidah on Tuesday, voicing their objections to the ongoing movement for quota reform. Speaking from the human chain in front of Moulvibazar Press Club, the organizers said anti-liberation elements in the guise of students are carrying out the movement. In Jhenaidah, freedom fighters brought out a procession and submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner.

Govt websites hacked

Around 10pm Tuesday, the homepages of several government websites were replaced with a page demanding quota reform, along with a photo from the ongoing protests. Websites found down were the PMO, the home ministry, the foreign ministry, the BCS administration academy, the agriculture ministry, the foreign ministry, office of the president, the press information department and the police HQ.

Attack on vice-chancellor’s residence condemned

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader visited the Dhaka University vice-chancellor’s residence yesterday morning and said the attack on the home was barbaric. “An investigation is underway. The attackers won’t be spared in any way.” Dhaka Metropolitan Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia, who was accompanying the minister, said some attackers had been identified from CCTV footage. Dhaka University Teachers Association (Duta) formed a human chain in the university protesting the attack. Prof Sadeka Halim, dean of social sciences, urged concerned authorities to bring the attackers to book. The association also said they will suspend all academic activities for an hour on Thursday. Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leaders and activists also formed a human chain demanding exemplary punishment of the attackers. Late last night, VC Akhtaruzzaman visited injured protesters at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and asked the hospital authorities to transfer the students to cabins for better care.