Stop torture at public universities


The situation at Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) is a warning for us to understand campus life across the country. University campuses are not just places to acquire knowledge, but breeding grounds for discipline, good behaviour and and free thinking. But each of the universities is inflicted with the 'gana room' culture where a large number of students are crammed into a single room, ragging and so on. This is a serious affliction, but the so-called autonomous university administration remains blind. In fact, they are more active in hiding the situation. It's time to take action to cleanse all this. The cleansing has started by banning politics at BUET. This must not be restricted to BUET, but implemented in all the educational institutions of the country.

Debate has emerged as to whether student politics will exist and organisation-based politics be prohibited. The most important thing is that the whole administration along with the VCs mustn't be involved in politics. They must run their institutions professionally. Discipline, security and an academic environment must be ensured at the halls. The situation at the universities deteriorated drastically due to the failure of the vice-chancellors, proctors and provosts. That Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) went rampant. All the torture and oppression at the public universities happened due to the failure of the politically-recruited ones.

Ragging along with various torture and violence has become a common practice at the public universities. Ragging and bullying is a common problem there while digital trolling has been added to it. There is no alternative but for the administration to actively tackle the situation. BUET had all along been free of grouping and partisan politics. The VC or teachers were not, to a greater extent, politically recruited there. Yet Abrar’s incident has exposed the widespread tortured that existed there. Over 200 complaints had been filed with the university over such tortures, but no action was taken. If Abrar would not be killed, such widespread and gruesome tortures going on at the public universities would never come into light.

Ragging took place at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) too, but nobody would complain. Despite that, the university took measures against 21 last year among whom two BCL activists were expelled immediately. This is an example of administrative success. Chittagong University (CU) too had partial success. There are at least 10 factions of BCL at CU who are always clashing with one another. At least eight people were killed in such rivalry. The CU proctor sat with the student organisations in 2013 to stop ragging. This had some result, but the seven students who were expelled for ragging by Jahangirnagar University on 3 March are still on the campus. The authorities are silent. Some 40 students of Khulna University of Science and Technology were physically and mentally tortured for seven hours on a 2017 night. No steps were taken.

The University Grants Commission must form a probe committee to identify such issues.

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