Dhaka, Bangladesh
Scrap cases in two days

Scrap cases in two days

Quota protesters back with ultimatum

News Report Quota protesters Monday gave the authorities two days to withdraw the cases filed against them during the quota-reform movement or else face fresh movement. Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Council co-convener Nurul Haque spelt out the ultimatum at a press conference in front of the Dhaka University Central Library around 11am. However, Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof Akhteruzzaman, whose residence was ransacked during raging violence during the recent anti-quota movement, told the media, "No scope for withdrawing criminal cases." "We'll be there in the field again if our demand is not met within the given time," Haque said in a written statement. UNB adds: On April 11 last, four cases were filed against unnamed accused following a clash and vandalism on the DU campus and its VC's house during the demonstrations for the reform to quota system in government jobs. At the press conference, the agitating students also protested a report published by the 'Daily Ittefaq' which termed one of the leaders of the platform a 'Shibir' activist. They also demanded withdrawal of the news, saying, "If the newspaper doesn't withdraw the report by 5pm today (Monday), all educational institutions and universities will boycott the newspaper from tomorrow (Tuesday)." The leaders also demanded arrest of the miscreants involved in the attack on the DU VC's residence. They also urged the authorities not to harass any student either on the university campus or at its halls. Barely an hour after their ultimatum for withdrawal of all the cases filed against them, three leaders of the council were reportedly picked up by detectives from near Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). Police, however, claimed they only called the three joint conveners of the council-Rashed Khan, Nurul Haque Nuru and Farooque Haque-to go to their Minto Road office to have talks on violence on the Dhaka University campus. Talking to UNB, Rashed Khan said the DB police picked them up onto a microbus around 1:25 pm while they were going to Chankharpool from the DMCH after visiting some students who got hurt during the quota-reform demonstrations. They were let go around 2:50 pm, he added. Later at a press conference in front of the DU Central Library around 4 pm, Nurul Haque, co-convener of the council, said the DB police picked the three council leaders onto a microbus and blindfolded with black scarves. Later, he said, they were taken to the DB office where they were neither repressed nor interrogated. Haque said, "We're worried about our safety and of our family members following the incident." Rashed Khan, joint convener of the council, claimed that his father Nabai Biswas was also taken to Jhenidah Sadar Police Station in the afternoon. He was released after the law enforcers "harassed" him, Rashed alleged. He also claimed that the law enforcers forcibly took some confessional statements from his father. Another joint convener of the council, Nurul Haque Nuru, said they were dragged onto the microbus from near the emergency department of the DMCH by a group of DB members. "They first gave us helmets to wear, and later we're blindfolded with scarves. When unfolded, we found us at the DB office," Nuru said. He said they were released after asking their names and addresses. "They told us that they'll call us again, if necessary." Later, a procession in protest against the incident was brought out on the campus. Contacted, DB Joint Commissioner Abdul Baten said they only interrogated the three students for the sake of investigation into the violence on the DU campus. He said they crosschecked various information and video footages relating to violence and the attack on DU VC's residence during the quota-reform movement through discussion with the three leaders of the movement. Baten denied the allegation of picking the three movement leaders up forcibly and said they only called them to go to their office and the three leaders left the DB office after discussions with them. Earlier on Thursday, the council announced a stay on all their protest programmes in response to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's decision to cancel all quotas for government jobs. On February 17, students and jobseekers started the movement to press their five-point demands that include introduction of unified age limit in government jobs, review of quota system in government recruitment process, including Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examination, stopping taking benefit by jobseekers under the same quota, filling vacant posts from merit list if candidates from quota are not found and slashing to 10 percent the existing 56 percent quota.

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