BUET students call off demo for the day, VC seeks time

BUET VC speaks to the demonstrating students on the campus in the evening on 29 March, 2024.Jahidul Karim

The demonstrating students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) have called off their programme for Friday and declared to resume it on Saturday morning.

They were demonstrating to press home their five-point demand, following a gathering of leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), student wing of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, on the BUET campus on Wednesday midnight, where student politics is banned.

At a press conference on Friday evening, the protesting students vowed to boycott all academic activities, including term final exams scheduled to be held on 30 and 31 March.

Later, they moved to the MA Rashid Administrative Building and demonstrated on its premises until evening.

Around 7:00 pm, BUET VC Satya Prasad Majumder went there, along with pro-VC Abdul Jabbar Khan and student welfare directorate’s director Mizanur Rahman. He tried to calm down the situation but the students remained adamant in their demands.

The VC said, “You didn’t address anyone in the written demands you have submitted. It bears neither a name nor a signature. Then, how will I take action on this? I called you to the office for a discussion, but you refused it. You will emerge as the best engineers of the country after graduation. When an incident takes place, why didn’t you inform us in writing? Who have you submitted your letter to? Does it carry any value? I cannot speak on this.”

“Still, I came here to talk to you due to the fact that you are my students. Shouldn’t you inform us following the incident? You could have reported us after the incident on 28 March,” he continued.

Later, he announced to cancel the residential seat of BCL leader Imtiaz Rabbi from the university hall, but the students refused it by shouting.

The BUET students have been demonstrating protesting the entry of the BCL leaders and activists on the campus on Wednesday midnight.

Terming the incident as disgraceful, the demonstrating students on Friday announced boycotting all the academic activities, including term final exams scheduled to be held on 30 and 31 March, from a media conference at the BUET Shaheed Minar.

Student politics at BUET was announced forbidden following the killing of the university’s student Abrar Fahad by some of the BCL leaders and activists, also students of the university, in 2019.

After the media conference, the students took position in front of the Directorate of Students’ Welfare (DSW) and were seen chanting various slogans that were critical of party-line politics on the campus.

The demonstrating students at the conference highlighted five points at the press conference. Those are: expelling Civil Engineering department’s 21st batch student and BCL central committee member Imtiaz Rabbi permanently and cancelling his dormitory seat, as he was the main organiser of the political gathering on the campus on Wednesday night violating the university’s rules; expelling the assistants of Imtiaz Rabbi from their dormitories and from campus for different terms; clear answer from the BUET authority on why and how the outsiders with political identities entered the campus and whether legal actions would be taken against them; resignation of DSW if the first two are not met soon; and a written undertaking about not taking any action against the demonstrating students to harass them

The demonstrating students in their written statement at the media conference said some of the top leaders of a certain political organisation entered the BUET campus through the main entrance around 1:00 am on 28 March even though no general students are allowed to enter the campus after 10:30 pm due to security reasons. But the outsiders with political identities entered the campus at midnight. Not only them, one after another political leaders and activists gathered in front of the BUET main entrance and entered the campus with a bouquet after 2:00 am with a huge procession.

It was also said in the written statement that such a huge political gathering on the campus of a university, where organisational politics is forbidden, at night and entering of outsiders is disgraceful to the dignity of the campus. This also seriously questions the safety of students and the campus. The university administration and the Directorate of Students’ Welfare in no way can avoid their liabilities in this regard.

The statement further said students find it impossible for outsiders, who are involved with politics, to enter the BUET campus at midnight avoiding the eyes of the authorities and DSW. Even after a day and a half of the incident, no response has been received from DSW regarding the incident.

It is still unclear how they got permission from the authorities to enter the campus at midnight. These incidents on the campus hamper the security of the general students, it added.

The BUET students were staging the demonstration in front of the DSW office while filing this report at 5:00 pm.