CU shuttle train accident: What steps did the university take? 

The incident involving the injury of 15 Chittagong University students as a result of colliding with a tree while traveling on the roof of a shuttle train is distressing. This unfortunate event occurred near Chowdhuryhat station in Hathazari upazila at approximately 9:00 pm on Thursday.

Eyewitnesses reported that the tree had leaned onto the railway line due to a storm. The train, departing from Battali station in the city and heading for the campus, was unusually crowded, as it is commonly used by students who work part-time or give tuition in the city and are returning to campus.

Due to the overcrowding, many individuals resorted to climbing onto the roof of the shuttle train due to a lack of space inside. 

Following this incident, enraged students took to vandalism, damaging 65 vehicles, including buses, private cars, and microbuses, in addition to targeting the Vice Chancellor's residence and the teachers' club.

The university administration has alleged the involvement of Jamaat-Shibir and BNP members in inciting the students' protest. Conversely, media reports suggest that two opposing factions within the Chhatra League are accusing each other of the vandalism.

Such acts of vandalism are unquestionably unwelcome within the university, and the wastage of state resources is undesirable. However, the university authorities' tendency to point fingers at Jamaat-Shibir and BNP for their involvement in the students' protest, without addressing the root causes, appears to be an attempt to deflect responsibility for their own failures. 

Following the injury of 15 fellow students and amid rumours of a fatality, it's understandable that the students became angry. The question arises: Why are students forced to travel on the roof of the train? The number of train coaches is significantly lower than the number of students needing transportation.

Shouldn't the university authorities have taken steps to increase the number of trains or coaches? And if so, why weren't these measures implemented? Is simply notifying the railway authorities or sending a letter sufficient? 

Students have voiced their objections that the administration did not adequately consider their demands to increase the number of train coaches and extend the timetable. The lack of space inside the train has left students with no choice but to travel on the roof. In this regard, the railway authorities also share responsibility. Despite significant renovations to the railway station, there has been no increase in the number of trains or coaches.

The number of students at Chittagong University has grown substantially since the launch of the shuttle train service. Although a demonstration train was provided at one point, this too was discontinued by the railway authorities due to its poor condition. 

Incidents involving robbery, stone pelting, and sexual harassment in shuttle trains are not new occurrences. While the university administration can arrange air-conditioned buses for teachers' transportation from the city, it raises questions as to why they haven't addressed the issue of safe and comfortable transportation for students. Having students stand in crowded, old, and unsafe trains or even resort to roof travel is inhuman treatment. 

Recent times have seen allegations of irregularities in faculty and staff appointments, corruption in development projects, tree cutting, and environmental destruction directed at the vice-chancellor and the university administration. Given this backdrop, the shuttle train accident and subsequent protests took place.

In response to this incident, regular students have expressed strong reactions on social media. They have also raised concerns about the luxurious residential building of the vice-chancellor. In light of this, why can't students be provided with assurance regarding quality accommodation and transportation facilities? The authorities should prioritise addressing the students' issues first.   

The university authorities have formed an inquiry committee to investigate into the students' movement. Several cases have been filed against unidentified individuals, and it is expected that appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken against the actual culprits.

The administration should be commended for assuming responsibility for the treatment of the injured students. Nevertheless, in response to the students' demands, the necessary compartments should be provided in the shuttle train. We hope to prevent such untoward incidents from occurring in the future.