Cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said on Monday that ‘almost all quotas’ in public service recruitment might be abolished, but the government would seek Supreme Court’s opinion on the 30 per cent quota for freedom fighters’ children and grandchildren.
At a briefing over the weekly cabinet meeting, he said that the secretary-level committee formed for a review of the quota system primarily recommended ‘abolishment of almost all quotas.’
He said that the 30 per cent quota for freedom fighters’ children and grandchildren could not be abolished right now claiming that ‘there is a Supreme Court verdict for maintenance of the quota for them.’
If qualified candidates from freedom fighters’ children and grandchildren are not available to fulfil the quota, those posts would be kept vacant as per the verdict, he claimed.
The cabinet secretary shared their primary recommendations a day after protesters for reform of the quota system threatened to launch a tougher movement paralysing the country from September if their detained fellows were not released before the Eid-ul-Azha and a gazette notification reforming the quota system was not published by August 31.
‘Time has now come to recruit in public services on the basis of merit through open competition,’ said Shafiul, also the head of the seven-member committee.
Students and jobseekers took to the streets on February 17 and continued protests for reducing the quota in government jobs to 10 per cent from the existing 56 per cent, including 10 per cent for women and 10 per cent for backward section of people.
The protesters faced at
tacks from police and ruling Awami League-backed student body Bangladesh Chhatra League at places, including Dhaka. Most of them are now on the run fearing arrests and even cannot stay at halls fearing further attacks, several protesters said.
‘We have almost finalised our report. Our recommendations are primarily to abolish almost all quotas and go for recruitments on merit basis,’ the cabinet secretary said.
Replying to a query, he said that they could not make any decision over the freedom fighters’ quota before any court directives.
There would be no quota if the court drops the freedom fighter quota, he said.
About the quota for the backward section of the people, Shafiul said that they had analysed the matter and found that those people had already made progress.
The government on July 2 formed the seven-member committee to reform or abolish the quota system in the face of protests that continued amid attacks and intimidation by Chhatra League.
The committee that includes secretaries from the Prime Minister’s Office, public administration ministry, finance division, legislative division, Liberation War affairs ministry and Public Service Commission was initially given 15 working days to submit the report. The timeframe was later extended to 90 working days.
Amid countrywide protests for reform of the quota system, prime minister Sheikh Hasina on April 11 told parliament that there would be no quota in government jobs.
Later on July 12, she warned in parliament that actions would be taken against any anarchy in the protests for reform of quota and said that the freedom fighters’ quota could not be changed because of a High Court verdict.
Police so far arrested at least seven protesters, including Rashed Khan, Tarikul Islam, Faruk Hassan, Mashiur Rahman, Jasim Uddin and Suhel Islam, since June 30.
Chhatra League activists swooped on quota reform protesters on June 30, when the protesters were preparing for a prescheduled press conference in front of Dhaka University central library, injuring seven protesters, including quota movement leader Nurul Haq Nur.
Chhatra League activists beat four protesters in front of National Museum at Shahbagh on July 1, when they were trying to hold protests against attack.
Chhatra League activists clubbed quota reform protestors on July 2 when they gathered on Central Shaheed Minar to form a human chain.
On the same day, Chhatra League activists hit a Rajshahi University student with a hammer and stabbed him in front of the university’s main gate.
On July 21, Chhatra League activists attacked quota reform leaders after their rally at Raju Memorial Sculpture at Dhaka University.
Chhatra League also beat quota reform protesters at Chittagong University and Jahangirnagar University in April, when the protests intensified.
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