The students of Jagannath University (JnU) demonstrated in the city and laid siege to the vice chancellor’s office today demanding construction of new dormitories.
They demanded that university and city administrations take immediate steps to reclaim 12 dormitories from illegal occupants.
Students are also boycotting classes and examinations to press their demands.
Several hundred students assembled under the banner of “Jagannath University General Students” and marched in a procession towards the VC office where they laid siege for an hour in the morning.
“Our demonstration will go on. If the authority fails to meet our demands, a general strike will be enforced in Old Dhaka on April 28,” M Nazmul Alam, coordinator of the students’ platform, told a rally of agitating fellows.
Their five-point demands include solution to transport problem and removal of a branch office of Bangladesh Bank for expansion of the campus.
One of the country’s oldest colleges, Jagannath College was upgraded into a university in October 2005. The lone public university in the capital city’s old part does not have any dormitory for its 19,000 students, including 8,000 females.
Demonstrators narrated how students, females in particular, were struggling to continue their study in the public university for want of dormitories and adequate transportation.
According to university administration, the university was able to recover three halls out of 12 from land grabbers one year and a half ago. But construction or renovation of dormitories has not yet started.
Member secretary of “hall recovery and building committee” ATM Shafiqur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune they could not start any development work due to some legal problems. A case involving two halls still remained unresolved while the city corporation authorities objected to the plan of constructing dormitory on a land meant for playground at Dhupkhola.
A section of senior staff of the university questioned the sincerity of the officials and others involved in the recovery and renovation scheme to get the legal issues resolved.
According to sources, the university has got substantial funds to build new dormitory for students on other place as part of a Tk one billion university development project approved by the government on December 7, 2010.
The university authorities proposed that they would spend a part of the money to build a 10-storey (1,000-bed) women’s dormitory and a six-storey dormitory for teachers. Work on the teachers’ dorm started, while the female students’ dormitory plan has been shelved.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mijanur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune, “The students of the university are demonstrating for genuine causes, but they have to understand the reality as well. It is quite impossible to do such a big work within seven working days.”
He said the university has already contacted the land ministry to solve the dormitory problem. “Our hall recovery and construction committee is also working day and night.”
Meanwhile, university spokesman Sayed Faruk Hossain in a press release said the university authority decided to buy some land in Keraniganj area to build students’ halls.