BUET stand-off

General students, BCL face off over student politics

General students, BCL face off over student politics

The students of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and the ruling party’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League are engaged in protests and counter-protests over the resumption of politics on the university campus.

The protesting students at a press briefing on the BUET campus on Sunday alleged that they were getting threats from different quarters and that propaganda was being spread against them, terming them extremists for running a movement against politics and outsiders on the campus.

They alleged that due to grave security concerns, they did not gather on campus the same day but boycotted examinations and vowed to continue the movement until their six-point charter of demands was met.

The same day, at a protest rally, BCL president Saddam Hussain referred to the ban on politics on the BUET campus as a ‘black law’ and demanded that the university administration immediately reintroduce student politics.

Later in the afternoon, several hundred BCL activists and leaders, including Saddam, gathered in the BUET Shaheed Minar area and placed wreaths on the mural of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Awami League general secretary and the road transport and bridges minister, Obaidul Quader, said at a programme held on Sunday that they were working to prevent BUET from transforming into a den of ill politics and extremism in the name of stopping student politics.

If something like this is found, the government has to take action, he added.

BUET vice-chancellor Satya Prasad Majumder said the same day that if the students and teachers took the decision again to resume politics, they would oblige.

Students need to do politics to become conscious of and grow in love with their country, he added.

The students of BUET started the protest on March 29 after the BCL staged a showdown on campus in the early hours of that day.

They are boycotting all academic activities, including examinations, demanding permanent expulsion of the BUET students involved in the incident, an explanation from the BUET authorities as to how the outsiders had entered the campus, legal action against the outsiders, resignation of the  director of the Directorate of Students’ Welfare for the incident, and safety for the general students.

The students continued their protests for the third day on Sunday.

Though the protesting students announced on Saturday afternoon that they would resume their movement on Sunday at 7:00am, they were not seen on campus until late afternoon, when a section of protesting students read out a written statement.

They alleged that since Saturday night they had been getting threats via phone calls, loudspeakers around the campus, and rumours on social media, and blamed different universities’ politically affiliated people for spreading propaganda and making them feel unsafe.

‘But it does not mean that the BUET students gave away their demands for a student-political-free campus,’ said the statement.

The students said that two but all 20th batch students had boycotted the examinations on Sunday.

The vice-chancellor also confirmed the number.

Protesting students also said that they were against Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir – the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami - and the banned extremist organisation Hizbut Tahrir, and that they were not aware of their activities.

They would return to academic activities whenever their demands were met, they added.

The BCL staged a protest rally on the Dhaka University campus, protesting at the suspension of politics at BUET.

The rally started around 12:00pm before BCL leaders and activists from different DU halls and various units of the Dhaka Metropolitan gathered at Central Shaheed Minar, chanting slogans against communal elements.

Besides demanding the BUET administration reintroduce student politics, BCL president Saddam also demanded the return of BUET student Imtiaz Rabbi’s hall seat, which was earlier revoked by the university authorities amid protests from students.

‘The rule you started on the BUET campus is a black law, as there is no provision in the university ordinance stopping student politics at the university,’ Saddam said, adding, ‘if it remains, it is unconstitutional.’

BCL DU unit president Mazharul Kabir Shayon claimed that they were always vocal against fundamentalist groups. ‘We will hold our next meeting at BUET,’ he insisted.

After the rally, they gathered in the BUET Shaheed Minar area around 2:30pm and placed wreaths on the mural of Mujib.

They blocked the road in the area during their showdown.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Muktijuddho Mancha formed a human chain and protest rally at the base of the anti-terrorism Raju Memorial Sculpture of DU on Sunday late afternoon.

The Mancha central committee president, Aminul Islam Bulbul, gave a 24-hour ultimatum to permanently expel 34 alleged Shibir cadres arrested during a secret anti-state meeting in Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj.

The Mancha general secretary, Al Mamun, said that if necessary they would besiege BUET and demand the right to politics.

In a press release issued on Sunday, the Bangladesh Chhatra Union expressed solidarity with the protesting BUET students and urged the university authorities to allow effective politics to prevent terrorism.

BUET authorities banned student politics on campus amid protests across the country following the brutal murder of Abrar Fahad, a second-year student at the university.

Abrar was beaten to death by then-leaders and activists of the university unit BCL over his Facebook post criticising the government’s deal with India on October 7, 2019.

In a murder case filed in this connection, on December 8, 2021, the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 sentenced 20 accused BCL men to death and five other accused to life imprisonment.