JUST: Even VC is helpless against BCL’s rampage

When the vice-chancellor of a university expresses his helplessness, it is not difficult to realise how reckless the governing party’s student wing is on campus.

The way Bangladesh Chhatra League dominates the Jashore University of Science and Technology (JUST) is not different from the situation of other public universities in Bangladesh.

According to a Prothom Alo report, the administration is helpless in Jashore University of Science and Technology against the rampage of the Bangladesh Chhatra League. There have been at least five allegations of torturing general students, job seekers and journalists against the leaders and workers of BCL in the last two years. Though the university administration forms committees immediately after any incident, there is no punitive action afterwards.

Expressing his frustration over the BCL activities, JUST vice-chancellor Anwar Hossain said, “I am regarded as the most powerful as compared to previous vice-chancellors of the university. But I too have become helpless in the face of the rampage of BCL activists. I raised proposals in two phases to take action against the accused students at the highest policy making forum – Regent Board, but they were discarded. I have become helpless due to political reasons.”

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This admission of a university vice-chancellor, the head and guardian of the university administration, reveals the shameful situation of the higher education institutions. There is an allegation that Kazi Nabil Ahmed, member of parliament of Jashore-3 constituency, shelters the BCL members on the Jashore Science and Technology University campus. The Board of Regents takes action in case of any disciplinary incident in the university but Kazi Nabil Ahmed, as a member of that board, opposes it whenever there is a proposal to take action against any leader and activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League. As a result, the university administration fails to take any action.

Speaking regarding this, the Awami League lawmaker said, “There have been some incidents before. Actions should have been taken against those.” That means he suggests that there cannot be any trial for current incidents until the trial of the past incidents.

According to the university’s “student code of conduct”, all kinds of political rallies and processions are prohibited on the campus. But in May 2014, BCL broke that rule and started political activities. On 31 July, 2022 the central BCL announced a 11-member partial committee for the JUST unit of Chhatra League with Sohel Rana as the president and Tanvir Faisal as the general secretary. Of the 11 members, seven including the president are no longer students, said the Prothom Alo report.

Eleven candidates came to the campus to take the exam for the post of lift operator and were subjected to BCL’s torture on 7 December last year. On that day, the leaders and activists of the ruling party’s student body confined the candidates at Shaheed Mashiur Rahman Hall and tortured them for five hours. Later, they were released outside the campus. In connection with this incident, the university authorities formed two investigation committees that found evidence of the involvement of six students.

The latest incident of BCL torture took place on the night of 4 June when Shahrin Rahman, a student of Shaheed Mashiur Rahman Hall of the university, was taken to the room of JUST unit Chhatra League president Sohel Rana. Allegations have it that Shahrin was beaten with iron rods and bamboo throughout the night but the university administration could not take action against the persons involved with the incident.

There is no scope for anyone, be it a Chhatra League leader or anyone else, to stay in the campus if they do not have studentship. But the BCL leaders, whose studentship is over, are staying in the campus and causing condemnable incidents regularly. No university can operate this way.

It is the government who has to decide, whether the VC and the university administration will have any authority, or whether the campus will be leased out to BCL.