Rajshahi University: Authorities cannot avoid responsibility

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

What happened at Rajshahi University for the last few days centering an altercation between a student of the university and a transport worker over a seat in bus is unwarranted, worrisome, and at the same time condemnable. Nearly 200 students were injured in an attack. Three of them were brought to Dhaka for better medical care. The police box and students’ motorcycles were set on fire. On the other hand, the shops of local traders also were charred. Where is the rule of law then?

There could be an altercation between a passenger and a transport worker over a seat. But why should that turn into such a violent incident? Why the locality will look like a “war zone”?

No law abiding citizen can take law into his own hands. The student could have taken resort to the law if he had felt he was wronged. In the same way, local people could have sought help of police if they were attacked. Instead of that, both the sides showed their muscle power. The excesses of law enforcement agency in controlling the situation are also completely unacceptable. And, the silence of RU authorities is mysterious. By the time they appeared on the scene, the damage was done and the injured students were undergoing treatment at hospital.

The law enforcement must remember that their responsibility is to protect the people’s lives and properties. They cannot do anything that will lead to deterioration of the law and order situation. They did just that at Rajshahi University. How did the police enter the campus without taking permission of the university authorities? The situation at the university has been worsening for the last three days as the security of the students was not taken into consideration. Though it is temporary, the academic activity of the students is closed. How will the university authorities avoid the responsibility of this loss?

The students have been demonstrating in demand of justice. Even though we extend our support to this demand, we want to emphasise that their programmes must be peaceful. Nothing in the name of demonstration that incurs loss of lives and property and normal movement of people is warranted.

The students locked up the university’s administration building. We consider this as an immediate reaction to the unfolding situation. But why did they go to block road and railway tracks? The university authorities have constituted an inquiry committee. We hope they will be able to find out the truth and identify the persons responsible. Meeting the reasonable demands of the students, the university authorities should begin classes and exams soon. We do not support the closure of any educational institution even for a day.

The university students’ unions would play an important role in any crisis in the past. They used to represent the students. But the elections of students’ unions in all the universities, except Dhaka University, are stopped for three decades. In Dhaka University, nearly after 27 years the authorities organised DUCSU election for once four years ago. Instead of the elected body of students, ruling party’s student organisation has been reigning at the universities. This situation must stop for the sake of bringing in a congenial environment for studies at the universities including Rajshahi University.