Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Let there be orderly and systematic politics in Buet

Editor, The Daily Messenger

Published: 08:38, 4 April 2024

Let there be orderly and systematic politics in Buet

Photo : Collected

After the murder of Abrar Fahad at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 2019, student politics was prohibited due to student protests. Over the past few years, student political activities on campus had ceased. However, on March 28, around 1 pm, it came to light that several top leaders of the Chhatra League had entered BUET through the main gate. In response, general students, who had stood against student politics, continued their class-examination boycott programme as previously announced. They asserted that student politics would not be tolerated at BUET and Abrar Fahad's death would not be in vain. They declared their intention to return to classes and examinations only if the campus remained free from politics.

Despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina acknowledging BUET's uniqueness, Chhatra League consistently disregarded the demands of general students. Affiliates of Chhatra League from various universities conducted propaganda against the general students involved in the movement. As student politics remained banned, students opposed those engaged in political activities on the BUET campus.

Meanwhile, Chhatra League organised a rally at the central Shaheed Minar of Dhaka on Sunday afternoon, demanding the reintroduction of systematic student politics at BUET. Central leaders of Chhatra League stated during the rally that the ban on student politics at BUET was unjust and unconstitutional.

Following the escalation of the issue, the matter eventually reached the court, and on Monday, the High Court suspended the proceedings of the 'emergency notification' which banned all political organisations and their activities. In response to this development, the Vice-Chancellor of BUET stated, "We have to accept what the court says. Court orders are binding on us. So we have to accept the court's verdict. Failure to do so will constitute contempt of court." This reflects the institution's commitment to respecting and adhering to the legal decisions made by the court.

Bangladesh indeed boasts a rich tradition of student politics, with significant contributions to various historical movements. The student movement has historically played a pivotal role in pivotal events such as the language movement of 1952, the education movement of 1962, the mass uprising of 1969, the liberation war of 1971, and the anti-dictatorship movement of 1990.

However, since the advent of democracy following the downfall of dictatorship in 1990, there has been a noticeable decline in the vibrancy of student politics. While the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) was elected four times during Ershad's regime, the DUCSU elections were stalled for 28 years after the end of the dictatorship. It wasn't until 2019 that both DUCSU and the 18 Halls of Parliament became active again through elections. The term of the last committee of DUCSU and Hall Sangsad ended in 2020.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residential halls and university campuses were closed from March 2020 to September 2021. While halls and campuses reopened on October 5, 2021, after the situation improved, the university administration did not take any initiative for DUCSU and Hall Parliament elections, even after several years had passed. This lack of initiative has contributed to a prolonged period of inactivity in student politics, raising concerns about the state of democratic engagement within universities.

We believe that political initiatives are indispensable for the establishment of democracy across all levels of the state and society. These initiatives are crucial for ensuring the rule of people's representatives at every tier of local government and, most importantly, for establishing equality of human rights and opportunities. Student politics serves as the initial platform for the development of political leadership, making it imperative to foster an environment where all student organisations can coexist peacefully in fair politics within educational institutions.

Furthermore, it is essential to prioritse efforts to prevent shocking and tragic incidents like the murder of Abrar.