Female students of Bangladesh Kuwait Maitree Hall at Dhaka University (DU) staged a two-hour demonstration in front of the vice-chancellor’s residence (VC) on Thursday night, demanding the resignation of the hall provost.
The residential teachers of the dormitory, however, claimed a section of students registered the protest as they (teachers) didn’t approach the main gate of the hall to receive the road transport and bridges minister, Obaidul Quader, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami-League (AL).
Besides, it is being alleged that a group of female students brought out the demonstration being instigated by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of ruling AL, capitalising on the longstanding dissatisfaction of the residential students.
Obaidul Quader visited different halls on Thursday night to mark the Saraswati Puja. But the provost, Nazmun Nahar, and residential teachers of Kuwait Maitree Hall failed to be present at the main entrance of the hall to receive the AL general secretary cordially, triggering protest among the students.
Provost Nazmun Nahar on Friday told Prothom Alo, "My mother has been suffering from illness for a long time. I came to know on Thursday morning that my mother has been diagnosed with cancer. I was informed about the guests coming to the hall. That’s why I went to the hall for several phases yesterday. I saw a very festive atmosphere when I last visited the hall at 4:30pm. At that time, the hall unit BCL leaders and activists were decorating the provost office to welcome the guests."
Nazmun Nahar said she met a physician to discuss treatment issues of her mother around 6:30pm.
"Around 8:00pm, when I was at the physician's chamber, I came to know that there had been chaos in the hall. Later, I contacted the VC and informed him the matter," she added.
Requesting to be unnamed, a residential teacher told Prothom Alo, “The students usually receive the guest from the main gate. Therefore, we were waiting at the hall's office to welcome Obaidul Quader. But he did not stop by the office. He left the hall just visiting the events arranged marking Saraswati Puja. Later, the hall unit BCL leaders gathered students and took position in front of the VC’s residence.”
However, BCL DU unit general secretary Tanvir Hassan Soikat refuted the allegation and said, the BCL always stands by the logical demands of the students. However, yesterday's demonstration staged by the students has nothing to do with the reception of Obaidul Quader.
A group of residential students of the dormitory started demonstrating in front of the VC's residence around 9:00pm on Thursday, demanding the resignation of the provost.
The students accused the hall provost of dilly-dallying to allocate seats, not taking any initiatives to improve the food quality in hall canteen, being indifferent about ensuring facilities and not implementing the assurances given on different occasions.
At a stage, a delegation of the students went to the VC’s residence. Then they returned to the hall around 11:30pm after holding a meeting with the VC.
When asked about the allegations, provost Nazmun Nahar told Prothom Alo that "Majority of the allegations the students brought against me are baseless. As long as I hold the responsibility, I will try to resolve the problems of the hall. I will resign, however, if the university administration wants."
Meanwhile, the university’s VC professor Md Akhtaruzzaman met the dormitory’s provost and residential teachers on Friday morning to discuss the issue.
Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman told Prothom Alo that "10 to 12 people came [to my residence] last night. Many of their demands are legal. Some of the problems will be resolved if we are sincere. Bringing order back to the hall is the main task. I met the hall provost and residential teachers today morning."
When asked about the provost's resignation, the vice chancellor said, "There is no scope to exaggerate the issue. It is necessary to solve the problem."