Hundreds of students and graduates on Sunday staged demonstrations at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka, demanding that the existing quota system in government services be reformed.
The demonstrators carrying placards initially tried to form a human chain in front of National Museum there around 11am.
However, as law enforcers barred them from doing so, they staged a sit-in to press home their demands, said Abul Hasan, office-in-charge of Shahbagh police station.
Over 1,000 students and graduates from Dhaka University (DU) and other institutions in the city held the demonstration under the banner of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad (the Bangladesh Council for Protecting Rights of General Students)
Around 12:30pm, a four-member delegation of the demonstrators submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, urging her to take necessary measures initiate the reform process.
The delegation was comprised of three DU students and another from Dhaka College.
Their demands include bringing down the existing 56% quota to 10%, introducing a unified age limit in government services, reviewing the quota system in recruitment processes including Bangladesh Civil Services examinations, filling vacant posts from merit lists if candidates holding quota are not found, and cancellation of the special recruitment process for those having quota privileges.
Of the 56% quota, 30% is for the children of freedom fighters.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Ranjan Khan, a demonstrator, said: “Freedom fighters and their children should continue to enjoy quota privileges, but that should be equitable and proportionate.”
In the last few civil service recruitment examinations, a total of 3,500 posts remained vacant as eligible aspirants were not found under the quota. A total of 813 posts remained vacant in the 28th BCS, 792 in the 29th BCS, 784 in the 30th, 773 in the 31st and 338 in the 35th.
The demonstrators also announced that they would programs at different colleges and universities across the country on March 4, if the government does not respond to them by March 3.
Earlier, on February 17, they staged demonstrations at the base of Raju Memorial Sculpture on the DU campus.
Protest at Rajshahi University
A protest demanding the same quota reduction has taken place at Rajshahi University as well the same day.
The protestors brought out a mute procession and formed a human chain on the university’s Paris road at 11am.
Hundreds of students participated in the events.
Earlier, on February 19 and 20, they and brought out similar processions on the campus.
Sections of this article were first published on banglatribune.com