MANY of the public universities remained happening places, not all at a time always though, almost throughout 2019 because of both the Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, that attacked the general students who raised their voice for their rights or became critical of the action of the authorities and many of the teachers, in ranking positions in the universities, who toed the line of the party in power. Such a situation hampered academic activities, prolonged the academic life of students and made some of the campuses unsafe for students. And all such incidents, in turn, took a toll on especially both the students and education in public universities and generally the political culture of the campus.
Chhatra League activists attacked students having opposing political ideology, participating in rightful events that went against the authorities and even having dissent in the University of Dhaka, Jahangirnagar University, the University of Rajshahi and Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur and many others. But what had the nation shocked was the murder of a student in the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology who died after Chhatra League leaders and activists had beaten him for hours in a room of a hall of residence early October, leaving the campus unstable for quite a long time.
The Chhatra League created chaos on the Chittagong University campus in March by beating a job-seeker who had to keep off a recruitment process in the zoology department. Jahangirnagar University passed through a volatile time as students started protests against, and demanded the removal of, the vice-chancellor for reported corruption centring on a Tk 14.45-billion development project, in which Chhatra League leaders and activists are reported to have been beneficiaries.
Chhatra League activists in November threw the principal of the Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute into a pond for not allowing their fellows to take examinations for not having the required class attendance. The Islamic University in Kushtia faced unrest because of infighting of the Chhatra League centring on the formation of committees.
While such a situation is blamed on the lack of political awareness of the students in general, the University of Dhaka, after a gap of 28 years, held elections to the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union in the middle of March, which provided for some hopes and encouraged Jahangirnagar University and the University of Rajshahi to think of having such elections, but the elections came to be mired in violence and irregularities and the DUCSU vice-president came to be attacked by the Chhatra League nine times, in all, after his election. Elections to central students’ unions in other universities did not happen. The university teachers who toe the partisan line have also been largely blamed for all this.
In September, the Awami League chief, Sheikh Hasina, also the organisational chief of the Chhatra League, removed the student wing’s president and general secretary from the organisation for their controversial activities.
which reportedly included having a share of money spent on the development work in Dhaka and Jahangirnagar universities, yet nothing has come assuring for the students, in particular, and people, in general. It is high time the Awami League made serious efforts to rein in the Chhatra League and the party presiding over the government stopped interfering into university administration.