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Dhaka Tribune

Get them back on track

Hostility and fighting among student wings of different political parties is nothing new in our country

Update : 03 Oct 2022, 10:53 PM

We were taken aback to watch resident students of Eden College fighting each other on some of the TV channels on Sep 25. The way they were attacking each other with plastic chairs or whatever they could lay their hands on is unprecedented in an institution like this. 

The viewers were told that this was an infighting of a student wing when one group organized a press conference communicating their grievances against some of the student leaders and office bearers of the same party. It was so disturbing to see them fight each other. 

Even when one was wounded and was being carried to be transported by an ambulance, it was stopped by another group. A good number of them were left bruised and wounded in the infight. 

Hostility and fighting among student wings of different political parties is nothing new in our country. We are rather used to such fighting resulting in serious consequences of destruction of properties and even death of participants at times. The narrative often goes that this has been in connection with domination of an area, a campus, and the like. 

We are told that students join politics being imbibed with some ideal to pursue some moral and ethical codes which are held dear by the followers of different political parties. We are also told that such movements are in order to establish people’s rights, peace, justice, and equality in the society by promoting democracy. 

If the motive of such activity in the university or college campuses truly was to uphold such high principles and dictums, there wouldn’t have been disruption and anarchy in our educational institutes due to political activism. 

We see students of political factions can hardly stand their opponents -- rather than dealing with them through democratic process of peaceful campaigns in order to broaden one’s foothold, they resort to alternative means that are often violent in nature. 

We don’t see opposing political parties counter each other in peaceful meetings, debates, and encounters. They violently go about confronting, evicting, and also annihilating their antagonists at any cost. 

The idea is that opponents must not be given any ground whatsoever to stand just because they follow some other ideology. These parties would go to any length by depicting their opponents as anti-state, anti-people, and anti-democracy. 

Bitter fighting among followers of the same party lays bare the fact that there is hardly any ideology or political theme in play. Rather, such conflicts are deeply rooted in material gain and undue privilege of various sorts. 

When students are supposed to be engrossed in the serious business of learning, they get entangled in extortion, intimidation, and the establishment of their own domain so that no opponents are in the vicinity. 

Student leaders would only settle for nothing short of an unchallenged and unrivalled authority. To them, what matters is their own companions who subscribe to the same ideas and who are subservient to the same bosses and serve their common interest only. Any slightest deviation is not tolerated. 

When the students were fighting each other, there were several media people running around with cameras recording the incident. The number of journalists present could easily overpower the fighting groups and stand in between to end the feud. 

But there was no effort as such because it was more rewarding to catch such rare moments live than trying to dissuade them. 

There is a big question as to what the administration in the college had been doing. Were there not sufficient indications that the situation had gone this bad to flare up into such hostilities? 

It can be well guessed that the authority does not actually retain any ability to monitor students’ activities, let alone trying to admonish and discipline them. 

This is because the authority presumably under duress had to part with some of their integral jobs such as allotment of seats to the students for instance. The powerful students rather have taken over chores like this which is very likely to be used as a weapon of influence and intimidation.

Are they aware of such dangerous development in the campus which is not only a serious hurdle for students to pursue their studies but also a serious threat to their individual life and safety? Thank God that the female students are not yet equipped with weapons like hockey sticks, machetes etc which could lead to far more serious injuries or fatality. 

If things go on like this, who knows, days may not be far when some of the students might bring out a firearm from her purse to take care of her opponent. 

Because when intimidation and annihilation of the opponent is the aim, everything is fair as it is in war. 

How about the parents and guardians? What is their reaction when they see their daughters are fighting and treating other fellow students as enemies, as if on the battlefield? Have they sent them to get involved in such nasty fighting in the name of politics? 

We are fortunate that this is not between two parties. Then it would have flared up countrywide within no time. 

Eden College is one of our most traditional and historic institutions and was founded in 1873. It also has the privilege of basking in the glory of having many famous personalities in its alumni -- with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina heading the list. 

Shouldn’t the students be imbibed with the great traditions set by their predecessors to uphold its glory and not give in to such petty material gains of power and domination? Is it that these young bright women do not realize where they're heading to? 

Or is it that they take all the risks in the pursuit of some material gain which ultimately will catapult them to a much higher stage of politics and power later in their life? 

Parents, teachers, the college authority, and our top political decision-makers combined have a responsibility not to disown our future progeny and get them back on track. 

Brig Gen Qazi Abidus Samad, ndc, psc (Retd) is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected].

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