Movement waged bringing graft allegation before disbursement of money, says the prime minister
Coming down heavily on those engaged in movements against the vice-chancellors of several universities, including Jahangirnagar University (JU), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the students will have to face punishment if they fail to prove their allegations.
“If they fail to prove, they’ll be punished for making false accusations… We’ll definitely do this. Because, I can’t tolerate that classes will remain closed for days after days,” she said, reports UNB.
She sounded the warning while addressing an event at her office in Dhaka, organized to distribute cheques of financial assistance from Bangladesh Journalists Welfare Trust among ailing, financially insolvent and injured journalists as well as the families of journalists killed in road accidents.
The prime minister said movements started suddenly against the vice-chancellors in several universities, branding the VCs as corrupt.
Noting that the protesting JU teachers and students must prove the allegations against their VC, she said: “If anyone fails to prove, the accuser will have to face the same punishment what may be awarded to the accused as it is stated in the law.”
“Legal actions will be taken if they raise false allegations. I’ve made it clear,” she said, adding that she has already directed the authorities concerned to keep the records and footages of speeches and words of everyone who is making the allegations.
“I would like to say it unequivocally that those who are bringing graft allegation, they’ll have to prove their allegations and provide information. If they can provide information, we’ll surely take action [against the corrupt],” she said.
The students at JU have been demonstrating on campus since August 23, demanding the removal of VC Prof Farzana Islam for her alleged involvement in misappropriation of around Tk1.6 crore from a Tk1,445-crore development project, in collusion with Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders.
The protests intensified over the past two weeks, during which the protesters were also attacked by Chhatra League men once.
Defying JU authorities’ decision to close the university indefinitely and ban mass gatherings on campus, the students and teachers have also been staging sit-in protests in front of the VC’s residence for the past four days.
Hasina on Thursday said those who are levelling the allegations surely have information. “Otherwise, why will they make them?
“It won’t be enough to say that some amount of money is given out. They’ll have to find out where the money has been given and what for the money has been kept aside.”
She said carrying out attacks on the VC’s residence, office, vandalism as well as disrupting classes and university activities in the name of movement is also a crime.
She said a movement is waged whenever any development work or a project is approved for a university. “Is there any matter of having share by those who are carrying out the movement?”
She said the project at JU has only been approved, but the money is yet to be disbursed. ”Movement has started bringing corruption allegations even before the disbursement of the money.”
Hasina also criticized those who earlier protested the move to set up the metro rail station through Dhaka University campus, and reconstruct and modernize the university’s Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) which was built in the 1960s.
Talking about the protests at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), the prime minister said the government took action immediately after student Abrar Fahad was murdered and arrested all those who were involved.
“Everybody [accused] has already been arrested. Everything, including case proceedings, is moving forward. Now, my question is, what’re they waging the movement for?” she said.
She said that those engaged in hindering classes for days after days and other such activities should be expelled from the university immediately.
Being an autonomous body, a university is supposed to run with its own financing. But the government provides money from the national budget to the universities every year, she said.
Mentioning that the government provides money for their study, Hasina questioned how much money the students spent at the universities.
“We give the money from the national budget. But the government can’t do anything there where the classes remain closed for days after days. This can’t be allowed to go on,” she said.
Death of Nayeemul Abrar
About the death of Nayeemul Abrar, a student of the school under Dhaka Residential Model College (DRMC), the prime minister criticized national daily Prothom Alo for neglecting the safety and security of the students, and not taking proper steps for his treatment.
Abrar was electrocuted during a function of Kishor Alo, a teen magazine of the Bangla daily, on the DRMC premises last Friday.
Hasina said those who organize a program on the school grounds should have the sense of responsibility to ensure the students’ safety. “They should have been careful about the safety and security of the children and proper arrangement of everything.”
“They neglected it to the point that the boy died from electrocution, but they kept this incident hidden till all the sessions of the function ended,” she said, wondering why the student was taken to a private hospital in Mohakhali when there were several hospitals nearby.
The prime minister said the problem of electrocution was reported repeatedly but no one paid any heed to it.
“How can Prothom Alo do such a thing with so much negligence? They are organizing their program. Don’t they have any responsibility? Won’t they see whether it was being held properly? They should have realized that there are children in the school.”
She went on to say: “They’ve committed a serious offence. Death of anyone, be it an adult or child, in such way can never be tolerated.”
Aid to journalists
During yesterday’s event at her office, the Prime Minister handed over the cheques of financial assistance to 53 journalists and families of journalist.
She urged the owners of media houses to donate in the fund of the Bangladesh Journalists Welfare Trust.
She also urged the mass media to focus on the names and identities of the criminals, particularly in the case of sexual violence against women.
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud presided over the function, which was also attended by State Minister for Information Md Murad Hassan and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Ministry Hasanul Haq Inu, and Information Secretary Abdul Malek.