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6 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 6 November, 2019 02:00:24 AM

JU closed sine die as 30 hurt in attack on protesters

Students continue protest on campus for VC removal
Our Correspondent, JU
JU closed sine die as 30 hurt 
in attack on protesters
(Top) A demonstrator carries his fellow injured in a Bangladesh Chhatra League attack on a demonstration at Jahangirnagar University for the removal of Vice-Chancellor Farzana Islam. (Bottom) Students attend to Professor Dr Sayed Ferdous, who was among the injured. Star Mail Photos

Jahangirnagar University (JU) was shut for an indefinite period by the university authorities following a BCL attack on demonstrating students and teachers yesterday that left at least 30, including teachers and journalists, injured. The students and teachers are demonstrating for the removal of Vice-Chancellor Farzana Islam over allegations of graft and other irregularities. The decision was made at an emergency syndicate meeting of JU chaired by the VC at her office at the Registrar Building on the campus in the afternoon, confirmed Registrar (Acting) Rahima Kaniz to The Independent. The students were also asked to vacate the halls of residence by 5:30 pm. The demonstrating students, however, rejected the decision and continued their protest on the campus. They also campaigned at various dormitories and urged general students to reject the ‘illegal’ decision of the university authorities and not to vacate the halls.

Finding the gates of their dormitories locked, female students broke the locks and joined the protesters in large number. The students then besieged the VC’s residence once again in the evening.

JU senate members including Shihabuddin Khan, Abul Kalam Azad expressed their solidarity and joined the protesting students and teachers yesterday evening.

The protesters, however, withdrew their siege on the VC residence early today at about 12:30am and announced to hold a gathering at Murad Chattar on the campus at 10am followed by a solidarity meeting and rally at Shaheed Minar.

Earlier, the university authorities issued a press release which read, “The campus condition is turning worse due to the on-going protests and the university authorities are not able to handle the situation. So, they have decided to close the campus indefinitely and all the academic activities will be closed from Wednesday.”

The JU authorities also wrote to the Dhaka police superintendent to send 300 policemen to help control the situation, the JU registrar confirmed.

Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul  

Quader yesterday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is closely following the ongoing unrest at Jahangirnagar University.

“The head of the government is very alert over the matter. She will take steps after analysing the situation,” Quader, also the Awami League general secretary, told journalists at Setu Bhaban in Banani yesterday, adding that the prime minister is aware of all matters related to the unrest.

Earlier, about 100 BCL leaders and activists led by JU unit President Jewel Rana clashed with the protesters who had besieged the VC in her house, leaving around 20 students, seven teachers and three campus journalists injured.

According to eyewitnesses, about 100 BCL activists attacked the protesters around 12 noon. They chased the protesters away and escorted Vice-Chancellor Farzana Islam out of her home from a 17-hour confinement.

The teachers who suffered minor injuries in the clash are Professor Sayed Ferdous, Prof. Shamima Sultana, Prof Jamal Uddin, Prof Rayhan Rayine, Prof Mirza Taslima Sultana, Prof Anwarullah Bhuyia and Prof Najmul Hasan Talukder.

At least 20 students including Naimul Alam Misu, Maruf Mojjamal, Rakibul Rony, Alif, Mahtir Mohammad, Shakil and Nobin were taken to the university medical centre for treatment after being injured in the BCL attack, said sources.

Following the attack, Professor Sayed Ferdous, one of the teachers joining the anti-VC protest and injured in the assault, said, “The BCL goons, on the direction of some VC backed teachers, attacked our peaceful movement and we condemn their attacks. We won’t leave the place even if they attack us again”. He vowed to continue the protest until the VC’s resignation.

However, addressing a briefing, JU VC Prof Farzana Islam hailed the BCL leaders and activist for their steps and termed the move (BCL assault on protesting student and teachers) ‘mass uprising’ by general students.

Mentioning it a great day for her, the JU VC said, “I am grateful to my colleagues, officials and employees. I am also grateful to all the students, especially the Chhatra League. They did this with responsibility.”

When asked about the BCL attack on the teachers and students, Farzana said, “You can describe it as an attack, but I wouldn't say so.”

The VC also demanded investigation into her confinement to her residence and said they were subjected to verbal abuse by the protesters. “I have been confined to my house along with other family members and have been subjected to verbal abuses. We haven’t been able to get in or get out. Is that not an attack?” she questioned.

Meanwhile, protesting the authorities’ decision of closing the university for an indefinite period and BCL attack on teachers and students, over 300 general students from different dormitories brought out a procession from the university medical center and later they took position close to the VC’s residents at around 3:00 pm.

Demonstrators also gathered at the JU transport yard and blocked transports from leaving the campus to protest the closing of the university. Transports were later allowed to move out, carrying hall-vacating students.

Protesting students claimed that even before the clashes broke out, a number of outside vehicles, including BRTC buses, were brought to the transport yard, which indicates that the attack and announcement of university closure were pre-planned.

Meanwhile, JU teachers association Secretary Professor Sohel Rana told The Independent that four teachers including himself (secretary) and the treasurer have decided to resign from the association as it could not take any steps to meet the demands of the general students and teachers and failed to protect them. The teachers to submit resignation are: Professor Sohel Rana (secretary) Professor M Monwar Hossain Tuhin (treasurer), Professor Syed Ferdaus and Dr Mahbub Kabir, according to the professor.

Earlier, in the morning, around 100 teachers and staff of the university, led by Professor Bashir Ahmed of Government and Politics Department and AA Mamun of physics department, tried to persuade the demonstrating teachers and students to remove the siege on the VC’s residence.

When contacted over the BCL attack, JU Proctor A S M Firoz Ul Hasan said, “We will take action against the attackers if they file any complaint to us”.

Defending their action, JU BCL President Jewel Rana alleged that Shibir men were involved in laying siege on the VC’s house. “We don’t have any conflict with the protesters, but we have information that the protest has been run by Shibir men. That’s why we removed them from in front of the VC’s residence.”

On Monday, protesters under the banner of ‘Jahangirnagar Against Corruption’ brought out a procession from the old academic building on the campus and marched towards the VC’s residence and took position in front of it around 7:30pm.

Speaking on the occasion, President of JU unit Samajtantrik Chhatra Front Mahathir Muhammad said they gave the VC much time to step aside but she did not pay any heed to this. “Instead, she has lodged a false case against the protesting students to thwart the movement.”

The agitating teachers and students said they will not leave the place until the removal of the ‘controversial’ VC, he said.

Earlier on Sunday night, the protesting teachers held a meeting with Education Minister Dipu Moni to resolve the crisis. However, the meeting ended inconclusively.  JU students started the protests in August, demanding a judicial inquiry into the reported involvement of the VC in corruption and mismanagement of Tk 1,445-crore campus development project.

Allegations have been made that the VC managed the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) JU unit leaders with Tk 1.6 crore from the development fund.

This also triggered a dispute within BCL central and JU unit leaders and the JU VC told media that the then central BCL president and general secretary had demanded money from her. BCL central leaders, on the other hand, alleged that the JU VC and her family were engaged in massive graft over the university development project. Later, the JU VC met Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina over the matter and sought a remedy, according to media reports.

BCL central President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and General Secretary Golam Rabbani resigned from their posts on September 14 amid allegations of controversial activities, including demanding money from the JU VC.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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