Bangladesh: Quota reformers suffer

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Prothom Alo English

.Quota reform campaigners are leading a miserable life as many have been mercilessly beaten by Bangladesh Chhatra League men while some have been arrested by the police.

Those who had been beaten were even denied proper treatment at the public hospitals. A few others have gone into hiding. They were demonstrating for a reform, but now they cannot even lead a normal life.

“We who were residents of different halls cannot stay at the dorms now. We all are running from abduction and arrest, no matter which university we are from. People who were demonstrating for road safety had been arrested as well, which makes the situation even worse. But we will still announce fresh agitation programmes. They have to free the arrested students,” Hasan Al Mamun, convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhon Parishad (Bangladesh General Students’ Rights Protection Council), said.

In the next seven days after 30 June, as many as 12 students were hospitalised while at present there are 11 in police custody and seven in jail.

Toriqul Islam of Rajshahi University was beaten black and blue on 2 July. He had to be brought to Dhaka when his condition deteriorated, but he later moved to his village home in Gaibandha. He is the joint convener of the parishad. He said he is doing better now, but he refused to say anything about the movement.

A close friend of Toriqul said a rod had to be inserted in his leg to join two broken bones. However, there has been some infection, so the doctors had to slice some skin from his thigh and apply it there. He needs dredging everyday and doctors have said he cannot walk in the next three months.

Nurul Huq, another joint convener of the platform, was beaten on 30 June. His left kidney was hurt while the right shoulder was dislocated. His body is full of pain and he cannot even move his hand.

One of the demonstrators said they had given up any hopes of getting a government job. They are into hiding now and all they want is a return to normal life.

‘Please you people write something so that the government spares us,” he told this correspondent.

Seven of the quota protesters are now in jail, all joint conveners of the platform’s central committee. They have been denied bail as well.

They were shown arrested for ‘vandalising the Dhaka University vice-chancellor’s residence, beating policemen, for obstructing government work and snatching walkie talkies of the police and under the ICT Act’.

Saleha Khatun, mother of Rashed Khan, one of the arrested, urged the prime minister to free her son. “We struggle to make our ends meet. At a time when he was to take care of the family, the family is shattered seeing his condition,” she said.

Lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua. advocating for the victims, said they have appealed to the court challenging a previous verdict that denied the students a bail.

The police say they have no plans to arrest any more students following the arrest of 22 held during the demonstrations seeking road safety.

However, they want the quota reform movement to be put to bed and they are working to this end.

Human rights activist Sultana Kamal said, “The state was to protect its citizens, but it has failed to do so. This is very alarming for a democracy.”

Prothom Alo

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