The recent incidents at Jahangirnagar University have raised questions regarding the vice chancellor Farzana Islam and her moral ground to cling to the post. It would be appropriate if she stepped down willingly to end the ongoing impasse. Such a step would be conducive to a neutral investigation. The demonstrations started after allegations of corruption surfaced against the VC which culminated in the closure of the university and the order to vacate the residential halls. Earlier, the demonstrators were attacked by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists and the VC supported the attack. The agitating students refused to budge and continued the movement. A university cannot run in such uncertainty for long.
Universities of developed and democratic countries have their own campus police for maintaining law order. We do not have such forces. But our campuses often see violent incidents which is impossible to rein in by the existing proctorial law or by teachers. It has become a big question as to how violent activities can be stopped at universities. There is a danger in systematic and active participation of the police in maintaining law and order on campus, and how far the concept of campus police will work is uncertain. However, there is no scope to give the ruling party student wing the responsiblity of maintaining law and order on campus. Unfortunately, the ruling party student wing is becoming de facto ‘campus police’. Jahangirnagar Universtiy is a case in hand.
Were there no alternatives if the demonstrating students and teachers truly ‘crossed the line’, if they besieged the VC in a dangerous manner and if they jeopardised law and order? What about the university ordinance of 1973? There was no mention of student bodies being in charge of maintaining law and order. We are familiar with the protection VCs provide to ruling party student wing men after they take up violent activities. But the examples set by the JU VC have concerned us. She termed the BCL attack on demonstrators as a ‘mass upsurge’ and said she was ‘delighted’. The news of VCs being ‘besieged’ has become common nowadays. Will we see that the VCs of other universities too becoming ‘grateful’ to BCL?
The ongoing drive against the corruption has its roots in Jahangirnagar University. Central president and general secretary of BCL were relieved of their posts for allegedly demanding ‘toll’ from development project of the university. JU unit BCL leaders were also allegedly involved in the incident. Three BCL leaders of the university allegedly confessed to taking toll. The demonstrating students and teachers claim that the VC and her family members are involved inthe corruption. This incident needs proper investigation.
Shutting the university sine die would not bring any solution.