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JU students, teachers block admin buildings for 2nd consecutive day

  • Published at 01:59 pm September 4th, 2019
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Jahangirnagar University teachers and students block the institution's administrative buildings on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The protestors reiterated their demand for a planned development and forming a judicial probe committee

A section of Jahangirnagar University (JU) teachers and students have blocked the institution's administrative buildings for the second consecutive day, demonstrating against the vice-chancellor (VC).

Under the banner of "Jahangirnagar against Corruption," they began their protest from 7:30am on Wednesday, while calling for a three-point demand near the old and new administrative buildings on the university's premises.

Due to the blockade, the administrative operations of the university came to a standstill for another day.

Meanwhile, JU administrative authorities arrived at the spot to talk to the protestors on two occasions. However, they had to return on both accounts as the two parties could not come to an agreement.

Pro Vice Chancellor (Administration) Prof Md Amir Hussain and Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Nurul Alam, went to talk to the protestors around 9 am about the ongoing demonstration.

Later, around 10 am, JU Treasurer Professor Sheikh Md Manzurul Huq along with a proctorial body spoke to the protestors.

Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Farzana Islam said: "We will arrange a sit down to talk to the protestors by tonight[Wednesday night] or tomorrow[Thursday] morning. The demands are going to be difficult to implement. However, with considerations from both sides, I hope we can come to an understanding."

President of Jahangirnagar Cultural Alliance Md Ashikur Rahman, also a protesting student, told Dhaka Tribune: "They did not offer to sit for a formal meeting with us. We will sit for discussions after we understand the authorities' stance towards our three-point demand."

ASM Firoz-Ul-Hasan, acting proctor of JU said: "The ongoing crisis can be resolved through discussions; even the vice-chancellor wants to sit for a meeting.

"The protestors have been proposed to sit for talks; however, they have placed conditions. We cannot hold a meeting if conditions are placed in advance," he said.

Prof Jamal Uddin of Environmental Science Department, also one of the protestors, said: "We have met for various discussions before, but if they make the decisions before any negotiation, then there is no point in holding meetings.

"Therefore, we have no confidence in such discussions. If we want to hold talks, it has to be done with sincerity."

The protestors reiterated their demand for planned development and for the formation of a judicial probe committee to look into allegations of corruption and irregularities, involving a project worth Tk1,445 crore.

Their other two demands are: selection of an alternate location for the three ten-storied student halls planned around the Bishwakabi Rabindranath Tagore Hall, and implementation of the entire project according to the views of everyone affiliated with the university.

Previously on Monday, a section of the teachers and employees of JU brought out a human chain in support of the JU VC and her family members.

Under the banner of “Bangabandhu Shikkhok Parishad,” a group of teachers, officials, and employees formed the human chain inside the university's Shaheed Minar premises.

Terming the allegation of corruption and irregularities in development projects false and fabricated, the speakers alleged that a certain group was fuelling the controversy for their own benefit and trying to halt the development of JU in the name of protest.

Students and teachers of JU, which is renowned for its forestry, have been protesting a government-approved Tk1,445 crore development project, which involves the construction of new buildings, for which 1,150 trees need to be felled.

In the first phase of the project, the university administration called for tenders on May 1 for the construction of six residential halls. The cost of constructing these halls is estimated to be around Tk400 crore.

However, there was outrage on August 25 as news spread that JU VC Prof Farzana Islam was involved in corruption, and was accused of distributing around Tk2 crore among three factions of the Chhatra League’s JU unit from the project fund.