Dhaka,  Sunday
21 July 2024

Calls for solution grow louder amid intense agitation

Abdur Rahim, Dhaka 

Published: 08:31, 9 July 2024

Calls for solution grow louder amid intense agitation

Photo : Messenger

On the second consecutive day of the Bangla Blockade movement, various regions across the country, including Dhaka, have come to a standstill. Despite this, a solution remains elusive. Counterstatements are emerging from both the government and the political arena, with no sign of compromise or initiative to resolve the critical situation surrounding the ongoing movement of students demanding the abolition of the quota system in government jobs. The road and highway blockades have caused significant hardship for the public. The students have announced that they will continue their agitation, including class and examination boycotts, until their demands are met. They have vowed not to leave the highways. To expedite the movement, a coordinating team of 65 members was formed yesterday.

Meanwhile, the court has stated that there is no justification for the movement, and the government is investigating whether there are any ulterior motives or external influences behind it. A cautionary message has been issued from the top levels of the ruling party. In response, students are raising slogans against the court's verdict, chanting, "Not Court, Shahbagh, Shahbagh Shahbagh." They have also officially rejected the Prime Minister's statement.

Three-day ultimatum, blockade again on Wednesday

Nahid Islam, coordinator of the movement, stated that both online and offline campaigns will be conducted on Tuesday to push for their one-point demand. A total blockade will be observed across the country on Wednesday. If the circular is not reinstated within three days, a larger program will be announced later.

The Anti-Discrimination Student Society has announced a new phase of their programme. According to their plan, a total blockade will be held across the country next Wednesday. Additionally, they will continue their communication efforts both online and offline, alongside the ongoing class and examination boycotts. For now, they will attend classes in the morning and join the protests in the afternoon. They have warned that if their demands are not met, they will escalate to a nationwide blockade.

Capital Paralysed by Agitation:

As part of the Bangla Blockade program, agitators occupied various points in the capital on the second day. This resulted in hours-long traffic stoppages in the busiest parts of the city, bringing the entire capital to a standstill. Students blocked major road signals with barricades, forcing many to travel on foot. However, ambulances, patient vehicles, and disabled vehicles were allowed to pass. The protesting students took up positions in Shahbagh, Sheraton, Banglamotor, Karwan Bazar, Farmgate, Gulistan, Science Lab, and Agargaon areas of the capital from 4 pm. Additionally, they were seen in Kataban and Neelkhet areas. From 3:30 pm, students from various universities and colleges, including Dhaka University, gathered in front of the central library of the university with banners and festoons. Later, the procession moved through various streets of the university and took positions in different areas of the capital.

Shahbagh-Karwan Bazar-Farmgate Occupied by Students:

From 4 pm on Monday, students occupied various important roads in the capital. They first gathered in Shahbagh and then split into groups to blockade at least ten spots, including Hotel Intercontinental Junction, Banglamotor Junction, Karwan Bazar Junction, Matsya Bhavan, and Farmgate Junction.

A group of university students marched towards Farmgate via Karwan Bazar, blocking the Farmgate intersection at 5 pm. They stopped traffic on all roads connected to Farmgate and stood next to Concord Tower, despite police barricades.

Students from Dhaka University's Amar Ekushey Hall, Shahidullah Hall, Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall, Borhan Uddin Degree College, and Badrunnessa Government College blocked traffic in Chankharpool, including through the Mayor Mohammad Hanif flyover.

Students from Dhaka College, Eden Women's College, and the Institute of Home Economics of Dhaka University blocked Sciencelab intersection, halting traffic at this crucial point. Students from Vijay Ekattor Hall and surrounding institutions blocked Banglamotor intersection.

AL-BNP-Japa Clash Over Quota Issue:

In a press conference held at Awami League's political office in Dhanmondi on Monday afternoon, party General Secretary Obaidul Quader stated that the government had revoked the quota system through a circular in 2018. However, following legal challenges by children of seven freedom fighters, the quota was reinstated by the court. Quader urged the public to avoid road blockades and await the High Court's verdict on the matter. He accused BNP and similar groups of openly supporting the quota movement.

In response, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir denied these claims, stating that BNP does not fuel the students' movement but sees it as a justified cause. Opposition leader and Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader supported the movement, attributing it to public distrust in the government regarding quota and pension issues.

Formation of 65-Member Team for Quota Reform Movement: 

The 'anti-discrimination student movement' has formed a 65-member coordinating team to drive forward the quota reform agenda. This committee, announced via circular on Monday afternoon, includes 23 coordinators and 42 co-coordinators from various institutions nationwide. Their role is to streamline and amplify the movement's efforts across the country.

Heavy Traffic Jam on Dhaka-Aricha Highway: 

Students from Jahangirnagar University initiated a blockade on the Dhaka-Aricha highway starting at 3:30 pm, which lasted until 7 pm. This action resulted in extensive traffic congestion stretching several kilometers on both sides of the highway. A student spokesperson stated, "Today, we blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway and various roads in Dhaka, gradually affecting district towns and sub-cities as well."

Railway Blockade Disrupts Rajshahi: 

Students protesting for quota reform held a four-and-a-half-hour railway blockade near Rajshahi University, paralyzing train services between Rajshahi and the rest of the country. Three trains were stranded due to the protest, causing significant scheduling disruptions. The blockade began at 11:30 am on Monday near the Faculty of Agriculture at Rajshahi University's flyover area and lasted until 4 pm, after which students cleared the tracks and left the site.

Students of Comilla University  Block Dhaka-Chittagong Highway:

In a continuation of their protest for quota reform, students of Comilla University blocked the Kotbari area of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway on Monday around 4:15 pm. Mohammad Saqib Hossain, a leader of the quota movement at Comilla University, stated that their protest in Comilla is now into its third day, synchronized with movements across Bangladesh. They are adamant that their demonstrations will persist until the 2018 circular on quotas is reinstated and reforms are implemented.