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Chhatra League activists attack quota reformists’ rally

  • Published at 02:54 pm July 15th, 2018
  • Last updated at 07:52 pm July 17th, 2018
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Chhatra League activists chase away quota reformists, beating and injuring some, on the Dhaka University campus on Sunday, July 15, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The incident took place around 1pm Sunday, after quota reformers organized a human chain to declare a 24 hour ultimatum to university authorities and called for the unconditional release of its leaders in police custody, and demanded arresting those who attacked the reformists

Chhatra League activists attacked a quota reformists’ rally which was going towards the office of the vice chancellor of Dhaka University (DU), assaulting students and harassing teachers who accompanied them.

The incident took place around 1pm yesterday, after quota reformers organized a human chain to declare a 24 hour ultimatum to university authorities and called for the unconditional release of its leaders in police custody, and demanded arresting those who attacked the reformists.

The program was held at the Central Shaheed Minar and was organized under the banner of “Bangladesh General Students’ Rights Protection Council” (BGSRPC) and began around 11:30am.

In the rally, many eminent DU faculty members took part, including - Department of Mass Communication and Journalism Prof Fahmidul Haq, Associate Professor Abdur Razzaque Khan of the same department, Samina Luthfa of Sociology Department and Associate Professor Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan of International Relations Department.

Chhatra League activists breaking the line of quota reformists at the rally | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The reformists said accepting their demands would bring peace to the university campus.

Prof Fahmidul said: “Bangladesh was built on the spirit of the Liberation War, so it is natural for its people to demand what is right. However, attacking someone who is demanding what is rightfully theirs is wrong.”

“We support the students’ demand and we are with general students, until the demands are fulfilled and the gazette notification is published. We never want any kind of chaos in the university campus. So release the students and publish the notification immediately, “he added.

Associate Prof Tanzimuddin said: “Chhatra League is selling the spirit of the Liberation War to stay above the law and commit crimes including beating up innocent students."

Quota reform activists at the Shahid Minar human chain | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

“Where are the university authorities and law enforcement, and why are they silent?” he asked.

He also said: “Neither faculty members nor the students are safe in the university now, as some faculty members have lost their humanity while serving the administrative leadership.”

Tanzimuddin also claimed that several Chhatra League activists followed him to his residence and one of them continuously clicked pictures of him.

Proctor Golam Rabbani told Tasnzimuddin that they cannot do whatever they wish along with the general students and asked him why they went to the Shaheed Minar without the permission of the Proctorial body.

Prof Abdur Razzaque said: “There is no security for both the teachers and the students on the campus now. General people do not have basic rights to stage any protest. The university should save students who are getting attacked but they are not doing it. They have fully failed to maintain the security of the campus.”

“How can they interrupt their teachers while they speak? We have come here with general students who have demanded to fulfill their moral rights. It's their democratic right,” he also added.

Saleha Begum, mother of detained quota reform protest leader Rashed Khan, said: “I have raised my child through struggle and poverty, and he came to DU to earn an education so he can work and help his family. He is not involved in politics. If I do not have him back, my life will be over.”

Meanwhile, Chhatra League leaders and activists organized an impromptu rally right next to the quota reformists’, and began making a racket by using megaphones in order to disrupt the proceedings. They also made rude comments and called names.

Quota reformist Rashed Khan's mother Saleha Begum speaking at the program | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Soon after, a few Chhatra League activists pushed around some of the professors on the reformists’ side, to which the quota reformists responded to by beginning to move towards the Vice Chancellor’s office to demand answers.

However, Chhatra League activists began throwing brickbats at the group and chased them away with sticks, injuring some students and causing the group to retreat and scatter.

DU Department of Physics postgraduate student Iti Jahan confirmed the incident, saying that the Chhatra League activists also assaulted some students after seizing them away from university professors who were chaperoning them out of the premises around 1:30pm.

Quota reformists fleeing in terror | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

On June 30, Chhatra League activists reportedly attacked the quota demonstrators and foiled their scheduled press conference. The incident triggered protests at different universities across the country.

Two days later on July 2, Chhatra League activists attacked quota reformists in the Central Shahid Minar area again.

In the two weeks since then, police have detained 13 leaders of the quota reform movement.

Chhatra League General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain denied involvement of any of the organization’s leaders and activists in the attack. He also claimed it to be a clash between two groups of quota protesters.

Shakil Uzzaman, the joint convenor of BGSRPC central committee while speaking to the Dhaka Tribune said: “We have expressed severe condemnation of the attack on us. When general students want their rights Chharta League makes attack on them. It is very unexpected and unlawful.

“We demand exemplary punishment for those Chhatra League activists who attacked us. We also deamand to release all quota reformists and publish the gazette soon to fulfill our demands. We will inform about our next course of movement soon,” said Shakil.