The authorities of Barishal University shut down the institution on Thursday for an indefinite period amid student protests demanding withdrawal of an “offensive comment” made by its vice-chancellor.
A notice signed by its registrar Hasinur Rahman was issued on Thursday morning asking the students to vacate their dormitories by 5:00pm today.
The demonstrating students, however, said they will not leave the dormitories and demanded the vice chancellor SM Imamul Huq to resign.
The notice said the university will remain closed for an indefinite period from 28 March for the sake of the security of the students, teachers and staff.
All academic activities including classes and examinations will remain suspended until further notice, it read.
One of the demonstrating students, Lokman Hossain, told Prothom Alo in front of the academic building, “We won’t follow the vacate order. It was issued illegally. We want the vice chancellor to apologise. He must resign too.”
The demonstration gained momentum when the order to close the university was issued around 8:00am.
The students also gave an ultimatum to the teachers’ representatives to discuss with them by 12:00pm.
The BU students began demonstrating from Tuesday (26 March) protesting a decision of the university authority not to allow the students at a programme, set to be organised to celebrate the country’s Independence Day.
The cultural programme was cancelled amid the demonstration. The students boycotted the special food served by the university authorities at the dormitories on the day.
The movement became stronger centring a comment of the vice chancellor on Tuesday noon.
The vice chancellor allegedly termed the demonstrating students “razakarer baccha (sons of collaborators)” at a programme organised by the university’s debating society (BUDS) on 26 March to award the winners of an inter-department debating competition.
The demonstrating students demanded the VC to apologise to them, withdrawing his remarks. They also announced on Wednesday that they would boycott classes and examinations until their demand is met.
The students locked the main entrance of the academic building during the movement. On Wednesday afternoon, there were altercations about unlocking the entrance. The students then locked the administrative building confining the teachers and officials until around 9:30pm.
The entrance was unlocked after the registrar and proctor assured them of not taking any actions against the demonstrators, the teachers and students said.
Vice chancellor SM Imamul Huq told Prothom Alo, “Special programmes are regularly organised in honour of the teachers, officials, noted persons and journalists on occasions of special days. Students were never invited there in the past. Suddenly they (students) are demonstrating this year.”
Several students were threatening from the morning (26 March) that the programme will not be allowed to organise if they are not invited there, he added.
“The students can have demands but why did they raise that on a special day like the Independence Day? What could be the rationale for creating such a situation centring so trifle a matter?”
Regarding the alleged remarks of saying the demonstrating students “razakarer caccha,” Imamul said, “In the debating society’s programme, I said I don’t know what to say about those who don’t want independence day’s programme. It doesn’t seem they are in favour of independence. Their behaviour is like that of the razakars.”
“How can I call students sons of collaborators? Offspring of freedom fighters are also studying in the university. My words arre being twisted to instigate general students. Of course, anti-independence forces are behind this,” the VC added.