Bangladesh Nationalist Party vice-chairman and former president, Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, 1985-86, Shamsuzzaman Dudu, in an interview with New Age, spoke about an obvious link between student politics Bangladesh's current state of 'autocracy'.
'Presently Bangladesh is witnessing authoritarian, autocratic and fascist rule. This is worse than the autocratic military rule. The country lacks democracy. We witnessed such rule after the formation of Bangladesh Krishok Sramik Awami League. The December 30, 2018 national election was actually won by looting votes at the night following December 29, 2018. If we looked at these from the point of view of student politics, there was some space for politics during military autocratic regime but now, if you say for the past one decade, there was no space for doing student politics, he argued.
Shamsuzzaman Dudu, also Bangladeh Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal convener, further said, 'Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal had absolute majority in the previous Dhaka University Central Students' Union. Everyone knows the election that elected the present DUCSU in which ballots were found outside the polling booths. Besides, the present DUCSU general secretary was removed from his post of his student organisation Chattra League for his unethical behaviour, corruption and even taking drugs. Such allegation was never raised against any DUCSU general secretary or any other office bearers in the past.'
'Activists of JCD, one of the biggest student organisation, even cannot stand in any campus of the country. Before the immediate past DUCSU election, JCD only could go to Modhu’s Canteen but not in the halls,' he alleged.
After the liberation war, many student leaders were removed from BCL over difference of ideology. One group was active to establish the ideals of country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the other group for establishing scientific socialism. The removal was for ideological belief. But, now, AL president and prime minister had to remove the BCL president and general secretary for corruption, demanding toll, unethical activities and even for drug abuse, he observed.
You can get a clear picture from these instances about the glorious student politics of sixties, seventies and nineties when the students fought for establishing the rights of the students as well as the nation, he added.
You can say there is a gulf of difference between the student politics in the past and in the present, said the former Chhatra Dal leader.
'Presently the country is witnessing controlled politics. The situation appears as if the government, administration, law enforcement agencies and even criminals have come together. Oppression continues against those fighting for democracy. Around 500 student leaders and activists of JCD went missing. So, the situation shows that space for democratic movement no more exists. So, how is it possible to organise student movement in this situation,' argued the leader.
'Student movement is a part of national movement but student movements’ primary task is to solve the problems of the students. But now we see that the ruling party’s student organisation activists who do not allow opposition student organisation activists are involved in female students’ oppression, creating problems in residential halls, toll collection, controlling tenders and even drug abuse,' he continued.
'They do not chant slogans on student issues and even do not allow the others to voice their concerns for those issues. During my student political life, we organised movement based on students’ 11-point charter, which later fuelled national movement against the army autocrat and created mass uprising in 1990. The movement for the cause of students is absolutely absent now,' he said.
Actually, student movement lost its path. For many years, it had been failing to identify its target for a long period. The leaders failed to stand against corruption, irregularities and institutional chaos. They failed to bring meritorious students, or even actual students, to politics and to speak for the students, he added.
'Nowadays, students mostly spend time on internet or mobile phones rather than education and extra-curriculum activities. Even they do not feel the need of reading a good article or poem. All are going through a state of ‘loss of ideals’ that are making the students seriously selfish and self-centred. It is actually tough to come out of the situation, the former Chhatra Dal president observed.
Finally, I wanted to see hope. The students themselves would overcome the situation as where there was darkness, there would be light, he said.
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