Dhaka, Bangladesh
No directive downward

No directive downward

Cabinet secretary says, as agitation for quota reform, BCL attacks continue

News Report No directive has yet come downward from government high quarters for beginning work on quota reform, a spokesman for the administration said Monday, as agitation on the demand and attacks on the demonstrators continued. Meanwhile, Rashed Khan, joint convener of Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Forum, who was arrested Sunday, was remanded Monday for five days. The issue was discussed in Monday's cabinet meeting, after which Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam told reporters that the matter of quota reform was still under discussion within government's highest level. "Nothing has come down to us," he said while briefing the media following the regular cabinet meeting. Earlier in the day, groups of pro-government student activists again attacked the quota-reform campaigners and inured several of them at the Central Shaheed Minar adjacent to the Dhaka University campus. A number of campuses of higher education, especially public universities, remained virtually under a lockdown for a second consecutive day as the protesters have called a boycott of classes. About the overall situation regarding the government move towards a recast of the quota system in government services, the cabinet secretary termed the process itself "complex" and said any decision about it will "take time" to come. On April 11, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared in parliament that all quotas in civil service would be rescinded after student demonstrations had almost brought the country under a lockdown. But, sources said, any progress in this respect seemed long way off, as it came clear from the cabinet secretary's statement. Under such a stalemate, while the protesters were going to resume their agitations, activists of the ruling Awami League's student front, Bangladesh Chhatra League, went on counteraction Saturday. Ever since, they have used physical and legal clouts to hold the quota reformists in check, witnesses said. They have beaten up some leaders of the movement and filed lawsuits against them. However, BCL leaders denied the allegation of their men having launched such attacks. They termed the acts of violence an outburst of 'internal feuds' of the demonstrators. Amid the latest flare-ups on campuses, the dormant quota protests look heading for a confrontation with also a resistance move declared by a unionist minister. The latest action and counteraction are stemming from Saturday's attack on the protesters on the Dhaka University campus and Sunday's arrest of Rashed. On Saturday, at least six leaders of the platform were injured in an attack. To protest the attack, the students' council called indefinite boycott of classes and examinations in all universities and colleges across the country from Sunday, which drew fresh actions reportedly from the pro-government student activists. In an attack on the demonstrators at Rajshahi University Sunday six of them were wounded. On the pother side of the divide in national politics, opposition BNP, which had lent moral support to the movement for quota reform, demanded Monday release of the arrested student leader and called for resolving the quota-form issue "peacefully". In a statement, BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged the government let loose the ruling party's student organisation to attack the quota-reform campaigners and police to arrest them instead of fulfilling the commitment to abolishing the quota in public service.

Share |