Several hundred Dhaka University students joined a protest rally at Shaheed Minar on Wesnesday and wanted to know if demonstration demanding quota reforms in public services is contrary to their constitutional rights.
They raised the question, angrily protesting at the recent attacks on the demonstrators and teachers by the ruling party-backed student activists and arrest of those who led the demonstration in recent times.
“We want to know whether the demonstration demanding quota reform is illegal. If not, why are the students being detained and harrassed?" said Nahid Islam, a student of Sociology, at a human chain programme followed by a sit-in demonstration.
Referring to the authorities' assertion that law would take its own course, the student raised question under which law a second-year student of sociology, Mashiur Rahman, was detained. "He was taken from his dormitory and has no trace for two days.” he said and wanted to know if the students are not entitled to freedom of expression enshried in the constitution.
Despite the repressive measures, the students expressed their determination to continue the demonstration until their demands are are met.
The students also demanded immediate release of the leaders of the quota movement, punishment of the Bangladesh Chhatra League men who attacked the teachers and safe environment on the campus.
Rushad Fareedi, a teacher of Economics department, appreciated the students for joining the programme braving intimidation by the ruling party cadres and asked them to continue the movement even if their demand is met.
“Steps should be taken to find out why some student activists have gone berserk -- Who are using them? We should find out who are patrons of Chhatra League men in running a shadow administration on the campus,” Rushad added.
The students at the gathering lamented that the ruling party elements attacked the students in front of their teachers, assaulted the teachers in front of their students and beat up the students in front of their guardians, terming such acts unprecedented in the country's history.
Addressing the university authorities, the protesters asked why the students feel insecure on their own campus and face harassment when they demand justice protesting against any oppression.
Nahida Sarwar, a student of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department, said the students are not being allowed to speak freely.
Law department student Jannatul Ferdaus said they joined the demonstration boycotting their classes to protest against the arrest of their friend Tariqul Islam Adnan, who was arrested on 2 July but not produced in the court yet.
Blaming the university authorities for their silence over the 'illegal arrest' of Adnan, she said the university authorities have no moral right to teach disciplines like law and the constitution.
International Relations department’s Antara Islam said, "If we don’t protest against illegal activities, will be asked by the next generations when ini fact we did lose our freedom of expression."