Grafts trigger protests at public univs   

Ahammad Foyez with Arifur Rahman and Saiful Islam | Published: 00:25, Sep 20,2019


Protests rocked four public universities recently with students and a section of teachers taking to streets on their campuses to oppose corrupt practices and irregularities by those at the helm of their administrations.

Inaction by the authorities overseeing the university affairs has been blamed for the ill practices that are going unabated at the highest seats of learning.

The authorities often found themselves helpless in taking effective measures against these universities where vice-chancellors or other top administrators have either been handpicked by the ruling party or are backed by it.

A section of Dhaka University teachers on Thursday joined the university’s ongoing student agitation against irregularities to press for the removal of the VC while the protesters at JU on Wednesday gave an ultimatum to the VC asking her to resign by October 1.

Recently, a group of JU students started agitating against its VC Farzana Islam alleging that she was involved in corruption, Dhaka University students launched a movement against the forgery committed in admission of some leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, students of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University at Gopalganj  began demonstrating as its VC suspended a student for making Facebook posts and a group of BCL leaders at Islamic University in Kushtia started protesting against another group of the pro-government student body raising corruption allegation against them.

Amid the ongoing protest at JU, VC Farzana Islam on Thursday met home minister Asaduzzaman Khan at his office in the secretariat.

After the meeting, home boss Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters at a press conference at his ministry office that it was a courtesy call and that it (the corruption allegation) was just discussed, adding that the corruption allegation at JU seemed to him like the Padma Bridge graft scam allegation as there was no payment of money involved.

About the corruption allegation against the high-ups of public universities, the Anti-Corruption Commission secretary Mohammad Delwar Bakht told New Age on Thursday that the ACC did not take any direct move against any university  unless the ‘monitoring’ authority concerned forwarded any complaint to them (ACC).

He further said that the commission also took necessary steps if any quarters submitted any specific allegation.

Former DU VC AAMS Arefin Siddique told New Age on Wednesday that what happened at JU also reflected what was happening at other universities. 

‘It is sad that nowadays we observe leaders of different student political organisations to deviate from their [professed] ideologies,’ he said.

Many students at the grassroots level, he observed, are doing politics based on ideology but leaders grab opportunities of corruption as such opportunities are available.

‘Such leaders of student political bodies have to rectify them by themselves,’ he viewed.

He also said that teachers were ashamed of what had taken place at Jahangirnagar University.

‘Sometimes we see that the administration at different universities misuses student bodies in their own interest and then students try to take some advantages as a return,’ he commented.

And, corruption isn’t persisting at universities but in every sector, he added.

‘Educational institutions are holy places. [University] students should do politics for the development of their universities but instead they obstruct it [development of their universities] for money, which is very unfortunate,’ he went on.

University Grants Commission chairman Professor Kazi Shahidullah did not take calls from New Age for his comments on the matter.

Former caretaker government advisor M Hafizuddin Khan told New Age that the public universities were plagued with rampant corruption and other irregularities as the universities were controlled by political parties who used the universities for their purpose.

He observed that the university authorities also liked to present them as loyal to the ruling party while in most of the cases a section of ruling party people and university administrators committed corruption in collaboration with each other.

According to UGC officials, the monitoring authority of the universities (UGC) was investigating six former and incumbent vice-chancellors of six public universities on account of many allegations, including corruption in recruitment process, embezzlement of funds, nepotism and sexual harassment.

A number of complaints were submitted recently to the Education Ministry, UGC and ACC against some VCs for actions against them, they said, adding that the education ministry and ACC forwarded the complaints to the UGC to conduct probe into the allegations.

The UGC recently launched probes against six VCs and they are Tangail’s Maulana Bhashani Science and Technology University VC Alauddin, Gopalganj’s Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University VC Khondoker Nasiruddin, Dhaka’s Islamic Arabic University VC Mohammad Ahsan Ullah, Barisal University’s former VC Harun-or-Rashid Khan, Chittagong University’s former VC Iftekhar Uddin, Jessore University of Science and Technology’s former VC Md Abdus Sattar.

The New Age correspondent at Dhaka University reported that a group of DU teachers and students on Thursday continued demonstrating at the university against the illegal enrolment of BCL leaders which allowed them to take part in the central student union elections.

The teachers of DU’s White Panel, which supports the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jaamat-e-Islami, in a human chain at the base of Aparajeyo Bangla sculpture of the university on Thursday, demanded cancellation of the enrolment of the BCL leaders as well as action against those who were involved in the scam.

Meanwhile, Dhaka University Against Corruption and Forgery, a platform of students, on Thursday continued their agitation pressing for the resignation of the university’s vice-chancellor and its business studies faculty dean.

They also demand punishment of the BCL members who carried out an attack on them at the Business Studies faculty premises of the university.

Campus-based reporters of different public universities around the country on Thursday demanded resignation of the BSMRSTU vice-chancellor in protest against the suspension of a campus reporter of the university.

The JU New Age correspondent reported that the demonstrating teachers and students of the university on Thursday brought out a protest procession on the campus demanding the resignation of the university’s VC Farzana Islam over the corruption allegation.

Over 100 teachers and students under the banner of ‘Jahangirnagar University Against Corruption’ brought out the procession to press home their demand for the VC’s resignation, which began at about 1:00pm and ended following a short rally in front of the old administrative building.

The JU VC, however, firmly said that protestors wouldn’t be able to remove her from her post through movement, adding that she would quit only if the president asked her to do so.

Teachers and students, who are continuing their demonstration against the alleged corruption of the VC, put forward their demand for her resignation on Wednesday at a press conference after a meeting between them and the VC for a solution ended without any decision.

The agitating students of JU have been demonstrating on the campus since August 23 demanding that the three halls, which the authorities planned to construct near Rabindranath Hall felling thousands of trees, should be built in another place.

They also demanded formation of an investigation body to look into allegations that the VC and her family were reportedly indulging in corruption.

Following a complaint by the JU VC, Awami League president and prime minister Sheikh Hasina removed BCL president Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury and general secretary Golam Rabbani from their posts.

BCL leaders complained that Farzana Islam had reportedly given Tk 1.6 crore to the leaders of university unit of the Chhatra League.

The New Age correspondent at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University in Gopalganj reported that the students of the university have demanded the resignation of the university’s VC Nasiruddin.

About one thousand students brought out a demonstration from the Joy Bangla Chattar and gathered in front of the university administration building after circling the entire campus.

Meanwhile, following the criticism from across the country the BSMRSTU authority cancelled the suspension against their second-year student Fatema-Tuz-Zinia.

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