• Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 04:11 pm

Quota reform protests across country come under attack

An unidentified quota reform activist under assault at Dhaka's Shahbagh on Sunday<b>Dhaka Tribune</b>
An unidentified quota reform activist under assault at Dhaka's Shahbagh on SundayDhaka Tribune

At several universities, the protests were foiled, allegedly by Chhatra League and a central leader of the movement was arrested by police

Students of different universities across the country staged demonstrations and boycotted classes on Sunday, protesting Saturday's attacks on the activists of the quota reform movement at Dhaka University (DU) allegedly by some Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists.

At several universities, the protests were foiled, allegedly by Chhatra League and a central leader of the movement was arrested by police.

Dhaka University

Dhaka University student Mir Lokman, a mime artist, was allegedly attacked in the campus for posting a status on social media regarding the quota reform movement.

 He accused Dhaka University’s Jagannath Hall BCL president Sanjit Chandra Das of the assault, who in turn denied the allegation.

 In the afternoon, at least three quota reform activists who tried to mobilize protesters at the capital’s Shahbagh intersection, after the arrest of key leader of the movement Rashed Khan, were handed over to police after being roughed up by the Chhatra League men in front of Shahbagh police station.

 Witnesses said, Chhatra League men grabbed them and beat them brutally in front of police who were mere spectators.

 Al Mamun, central Chhatra League’s deputy secretary of Liberation War affairs, acknowledged that they handed over three demonstrators to the Shahbagh police but denied any assault.

Progressive Students Alliance, a platform of left leaning student organizations also brought out a protest rally at DU campus demanding punishment of culpable Chhatra League men who carried out the attack on Saturday.

 The rally was brought out from the Madhur Canteen of the university, where leaders and activists of the platform paraded different streets of the campus.

 On Saturday, at least 15 members of the platform, including its joint convener Nurul Haque Nur, were beaten allegedly by a group of Chhatra League activists in front of DU Library. However, the Chhatra League denied the allegation and said it was a clash between rival sections of quota reform activists.

Rajshahi University

At Rajshahi University (RU), protesters came under attack on sunday by Chhatra League leaders and activists.

The students came under attack in front of the library on the campus around 11:15am on Sunday when they were preparing to form a human chain to protest the attack on protesters in Dhaka. 

As many as 50-60 Chhatra League leaders and activists swooped on the protesters with sticks, leaving at least seven injured. 

Earlier around 9:30am, they attacked the protesters when they gathered on the campus to form the human chain.   

When contacted, the Chhatra League leaders said they chased the protesters as they were trying to destabilize the campus, but denied carrying out the previous attack. 

“We did not chase the protesters.  But those who attempt to destabilize the campus will not be spared,” Chhatra League Rajshahi University unit’s President Golam Kibria said. 

Morshed Alam, joint convener of the university unit’s quota reform movement, said the Chhatra League activists chased them while they were preparing to form the human chain in the morning. 

“They assaulted five or six protesters,” he said.

Chittagong University

Chittagong University students boycotted their all the classes and examinations protesting the attacks on quota protesters at Sholoshahar in the city.

Anwar Hossain, convener of Chittagong unit of Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Council, the student platform that led the quota reform movement, said a group of students, expressing solidarity with the central committee, took position in the city's Sholoshahar area on Saturday. At one stage, he alleged, a group of Chhatra League men launched an attack on them, leaving two of the protesters injured.

Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Sylhet

At Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), BCL men allegedly obstructed the activists of SUST unit of the Council, to form a human chain on the campus around 11am on Sunday.

When the Council activists were preparing to form a human chain on the campus, some BCL men swooped on them and obstructed them from staging demonstrations in front of the central library of the university, witnesses said.

The BCL men later picked SUST unit convener Nasir Hossain up from the spot and confined him to a room at Shah Paran Hall, said joint convener of SUST council Noman Khandakar.

However, Chhatra League SUST unit acting president Md Ruhul Amin said: “There was no gathering for the staging of any demonstrations.”

In April, students of public and private universities across the country waged a strong movement demanding reforms in the quota system.

In the face of the movement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced in parliament on April 11 the abolition of all types of quotas in public jobs.

As no gazette notification has so far been issued regarding the abolishment of the quota system as per the PM's declaration, the leaders of the Council gathered in front the DU central library on Saturday to hold a pre-scheduled press conference to announce their fresh program. But, BCL activists reportedly carried out an attack on them around 10:50 am.