Deputy education minister says Buet students continuing illogical protest
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) authorities have asked protesting students for three weeks to meet their demands, which include the expulsion of those accused of killing second-year student Abrar Fahad.
“During a meeting with a student delegation on Monday, Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Saiful Islam sought maximum three weeks from them,” Directorate of Student’s Welfare (DSW) Director Prof Dr Md Mizanur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
“He said we will try to meet all the demands within two weeks.”
Mizanur added: “But we think we will be able to meet some of the demands by two weeks, and we will need the third week to complete the formal procedure.”
Deans of different faculties, DSW assistant directors and teachers of Buet were also present at the meeting on Monday afternoon.
Students agreed to the VC’s request, but expressed serious dissatisfaction over the authorities’ delay in meeting their demands
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Urban and Regional Planning Department student Shirsha Sangshaptak said: “The VC told us that our demands are logical. We are putting our trust in them. They have assured us that they’re making sustainable changes on the campus.”
“We have brought down our demands from 10 points to three, because we want to return to classes. If these three demands are met, we think it will be the ideal condition to resume academic activities.”
Sangshaptak also said: “The university authorities first said they needed a week, but then delayed the procedure. We are deeply dissatisfied about that.”
Submitted to the authorities on November 2, the three demands are: expulsion of 25 students — mostly leaders and activists in Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Buet unit — named on the Abrar Fahad murder case charge sheet; punishment of students involved in ragging; and the categorization and inclusion of student politics and ragging-related issues in the Buet Ordinance through approval of the academic council and Syndicate.
Last Thursday, protesters announced that they would agree to sit for their exams if the first two demands were met, and finally sit for the exams if authorities comply with their third demand.
Term finals of all departments in Buet were scheduled to start on October 20, but they were eventually postponed due to the protest.
EEE student Abrar Fahad was beaten to death by Buet Chhatra League men inside the university’s Sher-e-Bangla Hall between the evening of October 6 and the early hours of October 7.
Nowfel: Protest illogical at the moment
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel on Monday said that there were no grounds for Buet students to continue the protests, as police have submitted the charge sheet in the Abrar murder case.
“All possible measures have been taken [since Abrar’s murder]. The head of state herself saw to that. Police have filed a charge sheet against the accused after arresting them.
“After all these, there is no logical ground to continue the movement,” he said, while taking part in a press briefing at the International Mother Language Institute in Dhaka.
Regarding the students’ decision to boycott academic activities until those accused of the murder are permanently expelled from Buet, Nowfel said the expulsion procedure requires time.
“But all the accused are currently behind bars. They are facing a murder trial. It is irrelevant to carry on the movement at this point,” he added.
He claimed that a guardian of a student was provoking the movement in Buet. “But nobody has the right to create such disorder.”
Without mentioning any name, the deputy education minister warned the guardian, who he also said was a pro-BNP lawyer, to refrain from being involved in such activities.
He also warned other parents, saying: “We are monitoring everything. You should give proper advice to your children for their good futures. Otherwise, we will be strict and take action against those promoting chaos.”
Responding to a question on the ongoing crisis at Jahangirnagar University, Nowfel said they have started a preliminary investigation into the allegations against VC Prof Farzana Islam levelled by the protesting teachers.
“Action will be taken after the investigation very soon,” he added.