Anti-quota movement: Protestors left Shahbagh after 4 hrs, mass communication Tuesday

Anti-quota protestors lift the blockade from Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka around 8:30 pm on 8 July 2024Prothom Alo

Students and job aspirants, who enforced the “Bangla blockade” programme for the second consecutive day on Monday to press home their four-point demand, including reinstatement of the government circular issued in 2018 cancelling the quota system in government jobs, lifted the blockade after four hours.

Movement of transports resumed through the Shahbagh intersection as the demonstrators lifted the block at 8:35 pm.

They also announced to observe mass communication Tuesday along with boycotting classes and exams and student strike. However, the protesters have a plan to enforce blockade on Wednesday too. But the programme will be announced on Tuesday.

Besides, in their one-point demand, the students and job seekers said a law be passed in parliament abolishing all the discriminatory and illogical quota, except a minimum quota for backward communities as per the constitution, in all the grades of government jobs.

Earlier in the day, the demonstrators under the banner of “anti-discriminatory student movement” blocked Shahbagh, Bangla Motor, Farmgate, Science Lab and Zero Point at Gulistan, some of the vital traffic intersections in the city, around 4:30 pm. This programme has been named “Bangla blockade”.

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This created a huge traffic jam in a large section of the city.

The protestors started gathering in front of the DU central library around 3:00 pm. Leaders and activists of Ganatantrik Chhatra Jote, a platform of seven left-leaning student organisations of Dhaka University, reached the area with a procession from TSC (Teachers Student Center) around 3:15 pm.

Though the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, student wing of governing Bangladesh Awami League, gathered at Madhur Canteen on the campus with small processions, they did not create obstacles to the anti-quota demonstrators.

After the movement in 2018, for the first time, the left-leaning student organisations joined the movement against quota system in government jobs.

The protestors were chanting different slogans against the quota system blocking the Shahbagh intersection that has created traffic jams.

Anti-quota protestors enforced a blockade at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on 8 July 2024
Prothom Alo

While lifting the blockade, “anti-discriminatory student movement” coordinator Nahid Islam said, “We would not stop enforcing the half-day blockade. We have been planning for an all-out blockade. For this we will conduct a mass campaign and coordination with the students, representatives in and outside of Dhaka tomorrow (Tuesday)."

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"Later, we will announce a tougher programme on Wednesday. But our ongoing movement of boycotting classes and exams will continue. We are not withdrawing the blockade, rather we are taking preparations for an all-out blockade. We shall inform everyone about our Wednesday’s programme through an online press conference Tuesday afternoon.”

He urged all to take preparations to enforce a blockade at all the educational institutions across the country.

Instead of a four-point demand, Nahid Islam today spoke about a one-point demand - a law be passed in the Jatiya Sangsad abolishing all the discriminatory and illogical quota, except a minimum quota for backward communities as per the constitution, in all the grades of government jobs.

Nahid said, “We have put forth our one-point demand where the court has no jurisdiction. This is the responsibility of the executive and the government only. The matter depends on the government. There is no point in showing the court now. The government alone could decide the course of this movement.”

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Meanwhile, the “anti-discriminatory student movement” formed a 65-strong coordination team Monday.

Speaking about this, Nahid Islam said, “We did not want the movement to last long. That is why we did not form any formal committee as of now. But we are taking preparations to stay on the streets until our demand is met. We have formed this team including representatives from across the country.”

Nahid warned of taking actions if any student from any hall of Dhaka University is barred from joining the movement.

“Anti-discriminatory student movement” leader and Dhaka University student Sarjis Akam, Hasnat ABdullah, Abu Baker Majumder, Mahin Sarkar and Rifat Rashid and others were present at the time.