Bangladesh Students’ Federation is the student wing of Ganosamhati Andolan. On January 23, they observed their 35th anniversary at the premises of University of Dhaka where the speakers demanded an end to torture and violence in campus. Demands of ensuring seats for fresher and a democratic campus were some of the major points of the programme. Returning from the event, writes Sajid Ahamed Dipto
WITH the increasing popularity of far-right groups across the word and increasing totalitarian tendency of state mechanisms, the status of democracy is at danger. In case of Bangladesh, from government organisations to educational institutes, democracy is scarce.
The situation is even worsening in the public university campuses. Innocent fresher students are being harassed mentally and physically by the ruling party backed students. They have turned campus into ‘concentration camps’. Law enforcer’s role in allowing such crimes at campus indicates that they are working as a catalyst in these crimes. Abrar’s death is an indication to that.
In their 35th anniversary of its establishment, Bangladesh Students’ Federation called on an assembly against terrorism. The main objective of this assembly is to establish people’s rights and dignity.
People have the right to vote and elect whoever they want because it’s in their hands. There should not be any saying about that because this is a major pillar of democracy. Students’ Federation demanded four basic rights in the programme.
The first, to secure the safety of the students, University of Dhaka proctor should be dismissed. The second, seat is every students’ basic right hence it is mandatory to fix this problem by allotting seats to the students and an end to guest room culture. The third, holding the attacker at the DUCSU building accountable. The fourth, creating a democratic environment at the campuses.
The keynote speaker of this programme was Zonayed Saki, Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator. The chief guests were Samina Lutfa, assistant professor of sociology of University of Dhaka, Nurul Haque Nur vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union, Al kaderi Joy, co-ordinator of Progressive Students’ Alliance and Moshiur Rahman Khan Richard, organising secretary of Bangladesh Students’ Federation.
The function was directed by Golam Mustafa, the president of BSF and Jahid Sujon, central committee member of BSF. After the programme, the Student Unity against Violence, an alliance of 12 student organisations, held a rally in front of Raju Sculpture around 2pm, demanding immediate punishment of the perpetrators of the Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall incident where four students were tortured in an incident of ragging.
While speaking of the crisis of democracy in Bangladesh, Jahid Sujon said, ‘mass people will never forget the vote-rigging in recent national and local elections. Government has turned this country into a state of fascism. People should come forward to stop this downward transformation. Discrimination in education should be stopped because everyone deserves better education and a violence free environment.’
While talking about the conditions of general students in University of Dhaka, Zonayed Saki said, ‘four students have been tortured in a hall. BCL activists tortured them at Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall suspecting their involvements with Chhatra Shibir. And university authority failed to protect their students. Even their intentions are pure; they are directly supporting BCL activists because the victims were sent to the police custody instead of the perpetrators.’
‘Day by day Bangladesh is becoming a country where every person is a victim of the government’s fascistic attitude, said Golam Mustofa. ‘This government has turned into the greatest threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh. If they remain in power, people will lose their dignity, their rights and their lives. So, forming cumulative protests against them are duty of every citizen,’ he added.
Indicating the sacrifices of the mass people in the history of Bangladesh, Moshiur Rahman Khan Richard said, ‘if we go through 1952 and 1971, we will notice it is all about mass people who were fighting for their rights. We have fought against the fascism of Pakistan and it is high time that we have to fight again because there is no other way around for the emancipation of the mass people.’
‘Dhaka University authorities are liable for the students suffering in the campus,’ said Samina Lutfa, while adding, ‘violence or any sort of torture should come to an end. It is sad to say that university administration has involvements with the ruling party backed students. Even moral stances of the teachers of this institution can be questioned given their actions. These are not the essential aspects a university should seek.’
Addressing the audience, DUCSU vice-president Nurul Haque Nur said, ‘Chhatra League has established a reign of terror in the university campuses across the country.’ He also urged the prime minister Sheikh Hasina to control the activities of BCL. Demanding resignation of the university proctor, he said the university authorities have over and over again failed to protect the general students.
Bangladesh Students’ Federation comes with numerous proposals on their 35th anniversary. They demanded education for all and they mentioned that every citizen at least should have higher secondary education. Every fresher should have seat according to their merit. There should not be any involvement of the ruling backed students in seat allotments.
They demanded re-election of the March 11, 2019 University of Dhaka Central Students’ Union elections where Bangladesh Chhatra League bagged all the seats but two, amidst allegations of widespread vote rigging and irregularities.
Recent rape of a student of University of Dhaka has opened scope to talk about gender based violence again. Speakers of the programme demanded that the government should construct more effective policy for the punishment of sexual harassment and rape.
The invitation card of the programme had a tweak. It was made with a certain kind of paper which is eco-friendly. The paper, if disposed on soil after usage, will grow into vegetable plants because the paper holds at least 13 types of different seeds. Mahbub Sumon, a young environmentalist and green-entrepreneur is the mind behind this creation.
Sajid Ahamed Dipto is a student of Stamford University Bangladesh and an intern with New Age Youth
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Initiative