Dhaka University on Wednesday backtracked on its decision to impose a restriction on outsiders on the campus in the face of huge public outcry across Bangladesh.
The university authorities in a statement said no restriction was imposed on the entry or movement of anyone on the campus.
Partial presentation of the decision of the provost committee by some media and social media network users confused people, said the statement signed by university public relations director Noor E Islam.
‘All are requested not to incite evil force by spreading confusing information,’ said the statement.
The decisions and steps mentioned by the provost committee were taken in line with tradition, customs, policy and decision of the university, said the statement.
‘The requirement of permission from the university authorities for holding any sort of programme including rally or gathering on the campus was nothing new,’ it read.
Security personnel are discharging their duties at the entrances to the campus as they did in the past, it said, adding that the steps that were taken now were the part of guidelines the authorities issued at times for
the capacity building for the security personnel.
A release of the university issued on Monday, however, said that the university campus was only open to its students. No outsiders would be allowed to stay or roam around and run any activities on the campus without permission from the university authorities.
The release had said that if necessary, the university authorities would take help of the law enforcement agencies.
It had said that the provost committee meeting on July 5 made some decisions considering untoward incidents centring protests for reform of the quota system in public service recruitment and reviewing overall situation.
‘We would set up security posts on the campus to restrict outsiders’ movement,’ Dhaka University vice-chancellor Professor Akhtaruzzaman told reporters at his office on Tuesday.
‘We don’t want the atmosphere of the campus to be destroyed by the presence of outsiders,’ he said.
‘We just want to ensure a secure campus for the students’, he said.
The Dhaka University authorities continued facing huge public outcry in social media following the issuance of Monday’s release. Social media users as well as Dhaka University teachers and former students demanded immediate withdrawal of the restriction.
Progressive Student Alliance, a platform of left-leaning student organisations, at a press conference at Modhu’s Canteen on the campus on Wednesday protested against the restriction terming it illogical.
Dhaka University Chhatra Federation president Umme Ara Benjir at the conference demanded withdrawal of the restriction imposed in the name of security and said that it was the latest move by the university to choke the dissent voices which was against the very concept of the university.
At a separate press conference at the same place, Students against Repression, a platform of general students, demanded withdrawal of the restriction.
Platform leader Abu Raihan Khan also demanded unconditional release of detained protesters for reform of quota system and punishment of the activists of the ruling Awami League-backed student body Bangladesh Chhatra League who carried out the brutal attacks on them.
Eminent citizens while talking with New Age on Tuesday censured the Dhaka University authorities for its decision to impose restrictions on the ‘outsiders’ on the campus terming it childish, illogical and unfortunate.
The decision would hamper political, cultural and social activities as the Dhaka University campus was a centre of all social, cultural and political movements, said Dhaka university professors and cultural activists.
They also said that the decision would shrink space for free thinking, freedom of thought, opinion and expression.
They demanded immediate withdrawal of the decision as it would hamper normal activities at many historically important national places like Central Shaheed Minar, Suhrawardy Udyan, Bangla Academy, Sufia Kamal National Public Library, National Museum and others on or adjacent to the campus.
They expressed fear of more sufferings of patients and their attendants at three most important tertiary hospitals –– Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and BIRDEM hospital –– due to the restriction as the hospitals were in close proximity to the campus.
Newly appointed national professor Anisuzzaman said that the restriction on organisations not based on the campus was not a new one.
‘But I do not find any logic behind the decision of not allowing any outsider. Dhaka University is an open place and people will come here,’ said Anisuzzaman, also a Dhaka University professor emeritus.
Dhaka University professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said that the university was an open place and guardians and students should come here.
‘It is a centre of debate and discussion,’ he said, adding, ‘this decision should be scrapped immediately.’
Dhaka University professor Syed Anwar Husain termed the decision childish made by the inexperienced authorities.
‘This decision is not implementable...how the outsiders would be defined,’ he said.
Akhtaruzzman was also facing criticism as he found on Sunday similarities between activities of the protesters for quota reform and those of international extremist outfits like Taliban, Al-Qaeda and al-Shabab.
He said that from a video-clip of quota protesters, it seemed to him that their activities were similar to those of international extremist outfits like Taliban, Al-Qaeda and al-Shabab as their leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden used to send their message from unknown locations.
Akhtaruzzman also said that the procession in women’s halls of residence at night were indications of extremist acts as the extremists always used women.
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