For the last few days, pro-opposition teachers have barricaded the entrance of Khulna University (KU) to agitate against the alleged assault of one of their colleagues. They have threatened to boycott classes and halt academic activities if their demand to punish the culprits remains unmet.
The assaulted teacher himself, an associate professor of the English department, is staging a sit-in since yesterday, in front of the vice chancellor’s office, demanding his promotion to full professorship.
The agitation programmes have led to the disruption of academic activities with scheduled examinations being deferred one after another.
The turmoil began on April 26 when unknown assailants beat up the associate professor, ARM Mostafiz Rahman, at Nirala Residential Area located outside the campus.
Mostafiz had earlier applied for promotion to the rank of full professor, but the university syndicate rejected his promotion saying there was evidence of plagiarism against him.
An indignant Mostafiz held Professor Ahsanuzzaman of the same department responsible for the incident and filed a general diary against him at a local police station, accusing Ahsanuzzaman of plotting to block his promotion.
In the wake of the persisting tension, Mostafiz was attacked by two unidentified youths on April 26. He claims the assailants asked him: “Why did you get into conflict with Ahsanuzzaman,” before beating him.
The university administration filed a general diary at Khulna Sadar Police Station in relation to the incident, while the assailed teacher himself lodged a case. Professor Ahsanuzzaman called a press conference to say he had nothing to do with the incident.
The opposition leaning teachers’ faction has issued a three-day ultimatum to the university authorities to resolve the matter.
“Even though it happened outside the campus, any assault on a teacher should be dealt with immediately. But while I’m for punishing the culprits, I also think Mostafiz is wrong to bring the promotion issue to the fore simultaneously,” a KU teacher said wishing anonymity.
When contacted, KU Vice Chancellor Fayek-uz-Zaman said, “I’m trying my best to bring the culprits to book. But I can do nothing about the promotion as it is now in the hands of the chancellor.” The president is the ex officio chancellor of all universities of Bangladesh.
The VC said he was worried about the boycott threat and he had sent letters to all deans, department heads and teachers in this regard.
Professor Fayek-uz-Zaman acknowledged that the university is having difficulties in holding examinations on schedule.