Quota movement: Govt makes effort to resolve issue legally

Anti-quota protesters hold a procession on the Dhaka University campus on 6 July, 2024Tanvir Ahammed

The government and Awami League think that the demands of the students over the quota system in government are rational while their ongoing movement is irrational. Sources from the ruling party said the students took to streets leading to public sufferings when the issue is sub-judice.

In the wake of the situation, the government suggests that the protesting students go to the court to have their issue heard through lawyers as the government wants this issue to be resolved through court. The sources with the knowledge of the development said the government would even take the initiative to expedite the court proceedings in this issue, if there is a chance.

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AL general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader yesterday held a meeting with four ministers and state ministers at the party president’s political office in city’s Dhanmondi. Several sources said these issues were discussed  during the meeting. The ministers who took part at the meeting are law minister Anisul Huq, education minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, information and broadcast state minister Mohammad A Arafat and state minister for education Shamsunnahar.

Several ministers have contended to Prothom Alo that there might be any hidden agenda behind taking the sub-judice matter to the streets and that’s why the government thinks the waging a movement before the final verdict is unwarranted

The demonstrating students announced a mass campaign today, Tuesday, while their boycott of classes and examinations and strikes across the higher educational institute would continue. The students also announced their plan to go to tougher movements including blockade on Wednesday. They will chalk out their next course of action in a press briefing tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the meeting of ministers also alleged that the anti-quota movement has been politicized. BNP and other anti-government parties have become active centering the movement. It was apprehended that the opposition parties take the chance to cash in on the situation and destabilize the country. The government would remain alert about such a possibility. The meeting also discussed the public sufferings due to the blockade of students.

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Several ministers have contended to Prothom Alo that there might be any hidden agenda behind taking the sub-judice matter to the streets and that’s why the government thinks the waging a movement before the final verdict is unwarranted.

Before the meeting, the AL general secretary Obaidul Quader at a press conference indicated that the government wants the movement kept at abeyance before the final verdict is delivered.

However, the government thinks the demands of the protesters are rational. A minister present in yesterday’s meeting said the AL government abolished the quota system in government jobs in 2018 and the students are now demanding reinstatement of that circular. The students even demanded that if necessary the quota system can be reformed by forming a commission. The minister said reforming the quota system is also in the consideration of the government. Quota might be there partially for freedom fighters, ethnic minorities and physically challenged persons. But the government wants the students to back away from the streets for now. The government is also mulling over forming a separate commission later on to determine the percentage of quota in the government jobs.  

Students directed to go to court

The high court declared the circular abolishing the quota illegal based on a writ petition. The government moved to the appellate division seeking suspension of the high court. Now the government wants to make the students a party in the hearing of appellate division in the hearing by moving them away from the streets. This issue was also discussed during yesterday’s meeting.

Law minister Anisul Huq told Prothom Alo that those who are against the quota system did not have any lawyer during the hearing of the matter in court. They could not put forth their logic. Now the case has gone to the appellate division. They could appoint a lawyer at the appellate division.

Meanwhile, the education minister and state minister have been directed to resolve the issue of the separate movement of university teachers who have been protesting the universal pension scheme’s prottoy programme. Increasing communication with the teacher leaders was also stressed during the meeting.

The AL general secretary Obaidul Quader held a press conference before his meeting with the ministers. He talked about anti-quota protests and the movement of teachers over the pension scheme.

The AL general secretary did not make any comment as he left the room at 2:12pm following a one-hour meeting. Anisul Huq also did not comment on the meeting’s outcome.

The education minister, however, talked with journalists and said they don’t want to say anything on quota protests since the matter is under trial.

“The government has appealed to the court. So, I won’t comment on the issue,” he added.