'The prime minister said a special arrangement would be made for us, but her promise has not been implemented yet. We want immediate implementation of her directive'
Indigenous rights activists and general indigenous people held a human chain event on Thursday demanding a 5% indigenous quota in government jobs.
Over 100 indigenous people, gathering under the banner “Adivasi Quota Sangrakkhan Parishad” (Indigenous Quota Protection Council), formed the human chain at the base of Anti-terrorism Raju Memorial Sculpture at TSC intersection on Dhaka University campus, where they voiced their demand.
Addressing the event, Bangladesh Adivasi Parishad Vice-President Sumita Rabidas said: “The Cabinet secretary said there are no backward communities in the country right now. He made a generalized remark, without taking the indigenous people into consideration.”
She further said the ground for complete abolishment of the quota system had not been created yet, as the ethnic minority people were still struggling.
Holachanda Tripura, literature and publication affairs secretary of Tripura Students’ Forum, said: “The prime minister said a special arrangement would be made for us, but her promise has not been implemented yet. We want immediate implementation of her directive.”
Holachanda said quota system and its privileges in government jobs for backward communities were still in effect in India. “Then why is our government scrapping the quotas entirely, when a large group of people in the country are still backward?”
The protesters had also planned to hold a demonstration in front of National Museum at Shahbagh, but they were barred by police.
“Police did not let us form a human-chain in front of the museum, saying no more quota movement related program will be allowed there,” said Unnayan D Shira, coordinator of the platform.
Shahbagh police station OC Abul Hasan was unavailable for comments on the issue.
The rights activists urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to keep quota privileges for the ethnic minority people, as it is their constitutional right.
Articles 28(4) of the constitution addresses the role of the quota system, according to constitutional experts.
The article states: “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making special provision in favour of women or children or for the advancement of any backward section of citizens.”
It is apparent that the constitution empowers the government to provide benefits to disadvantaged communities, religious minority groups, the disabled, small ethnic groups and others who need support.
In the face of a countrywide demonstration staged by general students and job seekers demanding reform to the existing quota system in public service recruitment, the prime minister on April 11 had announced that the system would be entirely scrapped.
Hasina, however, said a different arrangement would be made so members of ethnic minorities and physically challenged people could get government jobs.
On September 17, a seven-member government committee, led by Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam, recommended abolishing the quota system for Class I and Class II jobs in civil service.
The recommendation later drew mixed reactions from quota reform movement activists, experts and academicians.