Ruling Awami League’s failure to restrain its associate student body Bangladesh Chattra League leaders and activists from rowdy activities continued to worry almost all quarters as Chhatra League activists attacked students protesting for road safety at places in Dhaka and Chittagong on Thursday and Friday.
Earlier, Chhatra League leaders and activists launched series of attacks on and intimidation of protesters for quota reform and even teachers at different universities since June 30 when the protesters began their latest spell of movement for reform of quota system in public service recruitment.
Attacks on protesters for quota reform continued even after AL general secretary Obaidul Quader told media on Sunday that prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president, did not want to hear any excesses in the name of Chhatra League regarding quota reform movement.
Worried citizens said that most of the attacks were committed in presence of police who did not protect the victims, rather harassed them causing them not to dare to file cases against the attackers.
Terming the incidents alarming, they alleged that the incidents depicted lawlessness and misrule in the country.
Local Chhatra League and Juba League activists allegedly attacked protesting students in front of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh on Satmasjid Road at Dhanmondi in Dhaka when the students were checking documents of drivers and vehicles at about 4:00pm.
Several protesting school and college students were injured as Chhatra League and Juba League activists along with cops swooped on them at Mirpur 13 Thursday late afternoon.
In Chittagong, Chhatra League activists allegedly beat up two protesters in GEC intersection.
On July 25, Chhatra League activists attacked a procession of quota reform movement at Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur injuring five students and foiled a press conference of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology Teacher Association seeking appointment of vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor of the university.
Such oppressions reminded people of oppressions committed by National Student Federation created by Ayub Khan’s favourite
governor in the then East Pakistan Abdul Monayem Khan, said Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim.
‘I will ask the ruling party to take lesson from the history and to control Chattra League immediately,’ said Selim, also former Dhaka University Central Students Union vice-president..
On July 22, Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman was attacked on Kushtia court premises allegedly by Chhatra League activists after a court in Kushtia granted him bail in a case filed by a local BCL leader.
Awami League and Chhatra League leaders, however, denied their involvement in the attacks.
Immediate past Chhatra League president Saifur Rahman Shohag told New Age on July 25, when he was heading the AL-backed student body, that none of his organisation was involved in any attacks. ‘Even though, BCL will take organisational steps against its members if any found guilty of any attack.’
Awami League organising secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury claimed that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party might have hands behind the attacks.
‘They [BNP] have taken it as a policy to tarnish the image of the Awami League-led government as they have failed to cripple the government and AL politically,’ he said.
In the latest spell, the attacks on and intimidation of quota reform activists by Chhatra League began on June 30, when Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakshan Parishd was scheduled for holding a press conference at the Dhaka University pressing for reducing quota in public service recruitment from the existing 56 per cent.
Later, Chhatra League allegedly intimidated and launched a series of attacks on quota reform activists and different left leaning student organisation activists on different campuses including, Dhaka, Jagannath, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Jahangirnagar universities.
On July 15, BCL activists allegedly attacked quota reform protesters and assaulted, pushed and verbally abused Dhaka University mass communication and journalism department professor Fahmidul Haq, associate professor Abdur Razzaque Khan, international relations associate professor Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan and economics assistant professor Rushad Faridi, when they were going to take part in a post-human chain procession at Central Shaheed Minar.
After the incident, the university authority said that none informed them about the attack but later formed a probe committee to investigate the incident as Students Against Oppression submitted a memorandum to the vice-chancellor with the photographs of the attacks.
‘The probe committee is now working. We will be able to speak on the issue after getting the report,’ said proctor AKM Golam Rabbani.
On July 15, Chittagong University assistant professor Maidul Islam left the campus with his family after Chhatra League activists issued threats for his Facebook post supporting quota reform movement
Later, he appealed to Chittagong University authorities seeking security for his safe return to the campus. He was, however, sued by Chiitagong University unit Chhatra League executive member Md Ifterkhar Uddin Ayaz under the Information and Communication Technology Act on July 23 with Hathazari Police Station on allegation of defaming prime minister by the Facebook post, according to the police.
On July 19, Chhatra League activists assaulted quota reform activists during a demonstration and raised fingers on the face of some teachers at Chittagong University.
On July 2, Chhatra League activists beat quota reform activist Tariqul Islam Tareq with hammer, iron rods and sticks at Rajshahi University leaving him seriously injured and two bones of his right leg broken. He was allegedly denied treatment from a government hospital in Rajshshi where he was admitted.
Neither quota reform activists nor teachers supporting the movement filed any case against any Chhatra League activist, according to officers-in-charge of Shahbagh police station in Dhaka, Motihar police station in Rajshshi and Hathazari police station in Chittagong.
Since July 1, at least 11 quota protesters have been arrested by the police in different cases, according to quota reform leaders.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik, also human rights activist, said that the overall situation was very alarming. ‘Clearly, supporters of the government are above the law and whoever opposes government policy are becoming victims of the law. This condition of lawlessness may lead the country into chaos and total misrule with increasing sufferings of the common people.’
‘There is no rule of law in the country. The oppressors are not punished, rather police are harassing those who are being oppressed,’ former adviser to caretaker government M Hafiz Uddin Khan said.
‘It is a matter of concern for all,’ said human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra executive director Sheepa Hafiza, demanding judicial probe into all the incidents. The reports should be made public to let the people know about the attackers and culprits must be brought to justice.
The quota protesters took to the streets on February 17 and the protests intensified from April 8 onwards. In the face of protests across the country, prime minister Sheikh Hasina announced in parliament on April 11 that the quota system in government jobs would be abolished.
After her announcement, the protesters suspended the protests demanding immediate publication of a gazette notification implementing the prime minister’s announcement.
The protestors in late April gave government until April for the gazette notification and extended it till May 7. They also extended their ultimatum on several occasions. As the protesters resumed their latest spell of movement on June 30, police and Chhatra League launched repeated attacks on them.
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