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Quota reform activists observe maiden anniversary of movement

  • Published at 01:06 am April 9th, 2019
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Quota reform movement leaders and activists commemorate the landmark student movement at the Dhaka University campus on Monday, April 9, 2019 Collected

The quota reform movement began with student protests at the DU campus in early April last year, and swiftly spread to other universities across the country

Bangladesh General Students’ Rights Protection Council (BGSRPC), the platform that spearheaded the movement to reform the quota system of recruitment to government jobs, observed the first anniversary of the movement yesterday.

Leaders and activists of the platform brought out a silent procession from Dhaka University’s (DU’s) Teacher Student Centre (TSC) and marched through campus, before lighting a candle at the base of the Raju Memorial Sculpture to mark the day.

The quota reform movement began with student protests at the DU campus early April last year, and swiftly spread to other universities across the country. 

The movement turned violent on April 8, when police lobbed tear gas shells, baton charged, and fired water cannons to disperse protesting students and frustrated jobseekers at DU, who retaliated by hurling brickbats. Hundreds were injured, and the heavy-handed response from law enforcement agencies as well as deployment of the ruling party’s student wing, Bangladesh Chhatra League, fanned the protests.

At times the DU campus was like a battlefield, with clashes between police, Chhatra League, and quota reform activists.

On April 9, a group of masked vandals stormed the residence of the DU vice-chancellor and ransacked the building. Both police and the DU authorities are yet to complete their investigation of the attack, and quota reform activists have denied any involvement.

On April 16, three joint conveners of BGSRPC – NurulHaque, Faruk Hossain, and Rashed Khan – were detained for over an hour after they issued a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw cases filed against unnamed protesters.

Four cases were filed against unnamed suspects at the time. The university authorities filed a case for the attack on the vice-chancellor’s house, while the Special Branch of police filed the other three.

NurulHaque said they had repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of the cases, but the university authorities and law enforcement agencies paid no heed.

“The people who were involved in the vandalism of the VC’s office should be given exemplary punishment, but the harassment of innocents is not acceptable,” he added.

The activists called off their protests on April 12, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the quota system would be abolished on April 11, 2018.

On October 4, 2018, the government issued a gazette notification abolishing the quota system of recruitment for first and second class government jobs.