• Monday, Nov 29, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:19 am

Forced haircuts: 22 Rabindra University teachers, officials locked in by protesters

  • Published at 11:21 pm October 24th, 2021
Rabindra University in Sirajganj
File photo of a building at Rabindra University in Sirajganj Collected from Facebook

A student attempted suicide outside the academic building on Sunday as the institution is yet to fire Farhana Yeasmin

Protesting students of Rabindra University in Sirajganj have locked in 22 teachers and officials at the academic building demanding the sacking of Farhana Yeasmin, the teacher who was suspended for forcefully cutting the hair of 14 students last month.

Laila Ferdous Himel, one of the teachers and chairman of the Rabindra Studies Department, confirmed Dhaka Tribune that the students locked them up at around 4pm Sunday -- hours after a student attempted suicide outside the building as the university did not expel Farhana.

Fourteen teachers and eight officials, including Public Relations Officer Shah Ali, were also kept confined on the building premises since the afternoon.

However, the protesters let them go at around 10:30pm, Ali told Dhaka Tribune. “But the teachers and other staffers are still locked inside the building,” he added.

Around the same time, the protesters allowed university staff to send food to the teachers and officials locked in the academic building, located inside Shahzadpur Women's Degree College in Sirajganj.

Also Read - Forced haircuts: Another Rabindra University student attempts suicide demanding teacher’s sacking

"But we will stop food supplies if our demand is not met," Zafar Hossain, one of the organizers and second-year student of Rabindra Studies Department, told Dhaka Tribune at around 12:20am Monday. 

“The VC said he will not take responsibility. This is how the administration is ignoring our demand.”

At around 12:30am, Laila told Dhaka Tribune that the students want steps against Farhana without any further delay since there were witnesses and evidence against her controversial action.

“I’m not sure why they got us locked up here. Maybe they think this move will help their cause. But we are not the decision-makers. We cannot make this decision [to fire Farhana],” she said.

 Also Read - Forced haircut: Accused teacher skipped probe panel’s summon

“We have no quarrel with these students. We always supported their demand. Still, we got locked in here. But we are not blaming them since they are seeing no other way to push for their demand,” she added.

Another suicide attempt

The confinement of the teachers and officials took place several hours after a student attempted suicide by drinking poison during a demonstration outside the academic building.

That incident took place around 12:30pm. The student was taken to a local hospital and is out of danger, according to the doctors.

Around the same time, the agitating students had also blockaded Dhaka-Pabna Highway for an hour. They later withdrew the blockade considering the woes of the commuters, said Zafar.

Also Read - Protests continue at Rabindra University for teacher’s expulsion

The suicide attempt by third-year student Shamim Hossain came after the students last Friday night resumed their sit-in protest and hunger strike demanding the immediate expulsion of Farhana, now former chairperson of the Cultural Heritage and Bangladesh Studies Department.

On September 26, Farhana forcefully cut the hair of 14 students of her department before an exam. She had reportedly directed them to trim their hair before attending the exams. The students had earlier protested the tight schedule of the exams which did not sit well with Farhana.

Feeling humiliated, one of the students, named Nazmul Hasan Tuhin, tried to kill himself by ingesting sleeping pills the next day. He was later admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.

That incident triggered continuous protests at the university, demanding action against the teacher. After the demonstrations began, Farhana stepped down from three posts she held.

On September 28, the students started their demonstration -- by boycotting exams and locking down the academic building -- pushing for Farhana’s sacking.

Two days later, the university Syndicate had suspended Farhana, barring her indefinitely from academic and administrative activities until further notice, while the students halted the protests following assurances from the education minister.

Also Read - Forced haircut at Rabindra University stirs protest

However, the students started demonstrating last Friday night, as no decision was taken at the Syndicate meeting which took place that evening.

On October 21, the five-member committee headed by Laila Ferdous -- which investigated the allegations against Farhna -- had submitted its findings to the university Registrar Sohrab Ali. Friday’s Syndicate meeting reviewed the report.

AKM Nazmul Hasan Papon, a spokesperson for the protesting students, said on Sunday: “When we contacted the treasurer [acting VC] about the meeting, he said the decision would be taken at the next Syndicate meeting. But he did not specify when the next meeting will be held.

“We will continue the movement until Farhana Yeasmin is fired.”

Treasurer Abdul Latif said the Syndicate has not made the final decision as it has yet to collect some information. “The next meeting will be held very soon and the decision will be made following the procedure.”

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