National, Front Page

Hunger strike demanding resignation of VC

13 SUST students fall ill

Published : 21 Jan 2022 11:03 PM

13 students, out of 24, of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) fell sick on the third day of their fast-unto-death demanding immediate removal of Farid Uddin Ahmed on Friday afternoon.

They began the ‘hunger strike until death’ in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s residence at 2:50pm on Wednesday last as the Vice-Chancellor refused to resign.

The protesting students have already passed 53 hours under the open sky amid biting cold.

At least 13 students have already been hospitalised so far including two in critical condition till filing of this report on Friday evening while the condition of rest 11 is also deteriorating fast.

Among the hospitalised students, nine have been admitted to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital, two to Jalalabad Ragib Rabeya Medical College Hospital and two to Mount Adora Hospital.

And they are being given intra- venous saline following the deterioration of their health condition.

Meanwhile, a team of intern doctors of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital on Friday came to the campus and started providing treatment to the students who are now on hunger strike.

Talking to reporters, Mohammad Mustakim, an intern physician said most of them are suffering from dehydration as they did not have had food or water for 53 hours.

“Besides, blood pressure of 11 students now on a hunger strike is now very low. Those who are falling in serious illness, we are referring them to hospital. And they are now being given intra- venous saline,” he said, adding their blood sugar levels dropped.

But they have not broken their hunger strike, expressing vow to continue the hunger strike until the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor.

Besides, several hundred students also continued staging demonstrations on the campus, taking out protest rallies and chanting slogan against the Vice-Chancellor

On the other hand, a group of teachers, who are also alumni of the university, went to spot where the students are hunger strike and tried to talk to them early morning on Friday.

Meanwhile, Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel, Organising Secretary, Awami League along with the leaders of the party’s Sylhet city and district units went to the campus and met the protesting students.

And Shafiul Nadel made an arrangement of telephonic conversion between the Education Minister Dipu Moni and the protesting students at about 3 pm on Friday.

“Apart from a minister, I’m also a mother. And I have two children. My younger child is older than you. I’m monitoring everything. I’m witnessing your (students) hardships. And, I do believe everything can be resolved through talks,” the education minister said.

She also requested the students to send their delegation to Dhaka to talk her on the issue.  

Besides, talking to journalists at function in capital Dhaka, Dipu Moni said she wants to talk to the protesting students and the leaders of teachers association of the university as well.

“A delegation of the students will be starting for Dhaka on Friday evening for a meeting with me. Besides, I also talk to the leaders of teachers association of the university. I believe, the crisis will come to an end,” she told reporters.

Earlier on Thursday, over 100 teachers led by Professor Anwarul Islam, treasurer, of the university took several moves to settle down the issue through talks.

They also requested the students to break their fast, withdraw the ongoing movement and return home.

But the teachers’ move went in vain as the students did not pay heed to their call.

It may be mentioned that on January 13, students of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall launched a protest after Provost Zafrin Ahmed Liza reportedly misbehaved with a student, who called her to report mismanagement at the dormitory.

Students started demanding the VC's resignation after over 50 students were injured, as police entered the campus and used truncheons, rubber bullets and sound grenades on Sunday evening to take the VC, who was confined at the IICT Building in the campus, away.

And later, SUST was to close, following a clash on the campus between police and the protesting students on Sunday.

On Monday, the protesting students wrote an open letter to President Abdul Hamid, demanding the immediate removal of Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed. The President is the Chancellor of the university.

The students also rejected the notice of shutting down the university for an indefinite period and the direction to leave the halls. Currently, the students are staying on the campus.

Provost of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall, Zafrin Ahmed was at the centre of the trouble, having reportedly misbehaved with some students. She has already resigned from her post, citing health issues.