Is Chittagong University campus BCL turf?

It might seem the Chittagong University campus is a place for turf war between rival factions of Bangladesh Chhatra League, not a higher educational institution, due to the reports of chase and counter-chase and armed clash of the governing party’s student organisation here for the last few days.

A Prothom Alo report says that the two factions of the university unit of BCL named ‘Choose friends with care (CFC)’ and ‘69’ locked into clash twice on Thursday night and on Friday. At least 29 people including three police members sustained injuries in the clashes. The identities of the people locked into the clash was learned through talking with the university’s BCL leaders and activists and analysing photos and video footage taken during the clashes on Friday afternoon.

Some 60 machetes were used during a clash between rival CEC and 69 alongside hockey sticks and other weapons. How so many arms could be brought at a university dormitory? Does the university administration have no responsibility to keep the campus free from arms?

This is not warranted that so called BCL leaders and activists would go on wielding arms on the campus day after day and the university administration would act as a silent spectator. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between them and BCL activists due to their activities. But they must keep in mind that the university campus is a place for learning, not wielding arms.

Despite the news reports and photos of machete wielding BCL Leaders published in different media outlets including Prothom Alo, the university administration remained silent. But their silence broke when education minister Mohibul Hasan requested the Chittagong University vice-chancellor and law enforcement agencies to take actions against the clashing BCL leaders and activists. But the decision the administration took after a long meeting on Sunday is nothing but an attempt to hide the actual culprits.

The university authorities said the persons found responsible upon investigation would be brought to book. Why did not the university authorities take any action before the request of the education minister while one faction swooped on the other with machetes in broad daylight? What is the reason behind the apathy of the university authorities to identify the persons responsible? In the past, BCL leaders and activists involved in criminal activities were given lighter punishment which was later waived on 'humanitarian' grounds.

The politics of BCL at the university has been divided into 11 factions for a long time. Of them, nine factions follow the leadership of AJM Nasir while the remaining two identify themselves as followers of Mohibul Hasan. These factions have been fighting since Awami League assumed power in 2009. The central Chhatra League suspended the CU unit’s committee on 24 September over infighting, extortion and beating up of journalists.

But how could the leaders and activists of the suspended committee commit criminal activities in the campus. The two Awami League should also clarify their position on this matter. The university cannot bear the brunt of the conflict in Chattogram city unit Awami League. Several incidents of killing took place due to the BCL infighting but no criminals were brought to book.

The question is why the education minister would need to request to stop the criminal activities in the campus? Is it not the responsibility of the administration to ensure the congenial atmosphere in the campus? Although the BCL’s criminal activities in the campus continued since 2009, the incidents were most during the current administration.

After condoning the terror of the BCL men, the office bearers of the administration including the vice-chancellor should have no moral right to remain in office.