A GROUP of citizens has answered the call of moral duty by putting out a call for the government to expeditiously take legal action against the law enforcers and activists of the Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, who repeatedly attacked general students seeking reforms in quota in public service recruitment. The citizens also demanded that the government should immediately stop harassing the students who took part in the protests and arresting and implicating them in cases. The government should, they further demanded, also withdraw the cases filed so far in this connection and unconditionally release the students arrested so far in connection with the quota reforms movement. The students had earlier taken to the streets in the middle of February and called off the protests on April 11 as the prime minister in the parliament announced the cancellation of all quotas in public service recruitment. As no official notification came, the students took to the streets again, to be beaten and harassed again by both the law enforcers and Chhatra League activists. Now the government has made an about-turn from its earlier position saying that the quota for freedom fighters would remain as there has been an order of the court on the matter.
While the students sought no cancellation of the quota but only reforms in or rationalisation of it, the government needs to understand that it must attend to the issue in some way or the other. Many believe that the rationale that the government gave in explaining the court order has no ground. Because there are some observations, not orders, in the first place. Besides there are cases in which the government has not complied with court orders. The court’s observations on the election-time caretaker government that it might continue for two years is a case in example. The government should also understand that the general students holding protests seeking reforms in the quota system are so doing out of disappointment in an economic environment where the government has failed to create employment and facilitate job creation in the private sector. It has earlier been reported that a fourth of the educated youth, which accounts for 26.1 per cent, are unemployed. In a situation like this, the students, along with their guardians who are mostly from the rural areas, have every right to be concerned about their future. A situation like this is enough to prompt students willing to take up government jobs to seek reforms in public service recruitment quota and, thus, dispel the worry of their parents and guardians.
The government, under the situation, must stop harassing the students taking part in quota reforms movement, withdraw the cases filed against the movement leaders and activists and release them immediately. The government must also take legal action against the law enforcers and Chhatra League activists who attacked the students, who held peaceful protests keeping to the rights that the constitution confers on every citizen. It has become important for the government to rationalise and reform the quota system in public service recruitment, making the process meaningful and ensuring a positive discrimination. The government must, simultaneously, create scopes for employment, both in the public and the private sector, if it wants to head off any such trouble in the future.
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