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SUST student movement enters 31st day

President to decide VC’s fate: Dipu Moni

Published : 11 Feb 2022 10:48 PM | Updated : 12 Feb 2022 01:42 PM

Education Minister Dipu Moni on Friday said the most of the demands of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology’s (SUST) students are logical.

“Students’ most demands are logical. And we are working to solve the problems raised by the students as early as possible,” he told reporters after the meeting with representatives of protesting students Sylhet Circuit House.

Dipu Moni and Deputy Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel held the meeting with students’ representatives in order to diffuse the ongoing crisis on the university campus.

The meeting began at 3:00 pm and continued till 6:30pm yesterday.   

Referring to the demand for Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed’s resignation, the minister said the resignation or removal of the Vice-Chancellor is a different issue.

“We will place the students demand for Vice-Chancellor’s resignation before the honourable Chancellor,” Dipu Moni added.

“There are various processes for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor has been appointed by the president, who is the chancellor of the university. We will see what we can do about it after solving the students' problems.”

On the other hand, the protesting students of SUST talking reporters said they would formally inform on the outcome of the meeting at a press conference soon.

Earlier in the morning three-member ministerial team, led by education minister Dipu Moni, arrived in Sylhet on Friday to hold talks with the protesting students.

Apart from Dipu Moni and Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, State Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed and University Grant Commission secretary Dr Ferdous Zaman were also present in the meeting.  

Shahriar Abedin, spokesperson of the protesters, told the waiting journalists that the issues relating to the resignation of the vice chancellor, immediate reopening of the university and holding examinations were discussed.

They urged the ministers for immediate reactivation of over 250 mobile banking accounts of students and withdrawal of the two cases filed by the police against the protesters.

Besides, they also called upon the minister to provide financial assistance for seriously injured Sajal Kundu and ninth-grade job security.

Apart from these, they also demanded of the government to increase budget allocation for university research and bring changes in examination system and teachers’ recruitment process based on qualifications, PhD degree, honesty, sincerity and dedication.

They requested the ministers to make former SUST teachers--Professor Zafar Iqbal and Professor Yasmin Haque, emeritus professors.

Representatives of student protesters Mohaiminul Bashar Raj, Yasir Sarkar, Nafisa Anjum, Sabbir Ahmed, Ashiq Hossain Maruf, Sabrina Shahrin Rashid, Sudipta Bhaskar, Amena Begum, Mir Rana and Jahedul Islam Apurbo were present in the meeting.

Meanwhile, with the deadlock continuing in talks between the students of SUST and the government, the ongoing movement demanding removal of vice-chancellor professor Farid Uddin Ahmed entered 30th day on Friday.

The students resumed their protests on Wednesday, after their demand for the removal of vice-chancellor professor Farid Uddin Ahmed was not met.

On January 25 twenty seven students who had been on hunger strike for 162 hours demanding the resignation of Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed over police crackdown on their fellows, ended fast following an assurance of meeting their demands. 

At the request of Mohammed Zafar Iqbal, a former teacher at SUST, students called off the strike as he (Zafar Iqbal) assured them that their demands would be fulfilled with the help of upper level of the government.

Zafar Iqbal added that he came here while he received the news of upper level.

Therefore, since then they have been continuing their movement on the campus until VC Farid Uddin Ahmed steps down.

As part of the one point movement demanding Vice Chancellor’s resignation, the students have been organising various programmes like painting colorful designs locally known as alpona, rendering defendant songs.

They are also taking out processions, staging demonstration and paining in the walls since January 13.

They went on the strike unto death demanding resignation of Vice-Chancellor following the police action on the protesting students as his behest on January 16.

Earlier the education minister, university teachers and local Awami League leaders continued trying their level to solve the crisis.

But they completely failed to convince the students as they have made their stand clear that they would not break the hunger strike until the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor.

On the other hand, lawmakers, academic, civil society members and former teachers of the university expressed deep concern about the current crisis at SUST.

Besides, SUST Teachers Association, several teachers and Proctor Alamgir Kabir had tried to persuade the protesting students to end their fast-unto-Vice-Chancellor’s resignation protest.

The student, however, refused to break the fast and instead locked into an argument with the teachers for not supporting their protest.

Later the teachers tried to get into the Vice-Chancellor’s residence with food, beverages and medicines but it failed to go through the human chain surrounding the place.

And the students continued calling upon the President to remove the Vice-Chancellor for the sake of the university.

Earlier on January 17, 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.

Some 24 students began the ‘hunger strike until death’ in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s residence at 2:50pm on January 19 as the Vice-Chancellor refused to resign.

Later, four more joined the hunger strike.

But many students have not left the campus yet, staging demonstrations, taking and out processions while 27 have been on hunger strike demanding the Vice-Chancellor resignation.

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.

Since then students started demanding the Vice-Chancellor’s resignation after over 50 students were injured, as police entered the campus and used truncheons, rubber bullets and sound grenades on January 16 evening to take the Vice-Chancellor, who was confined at the IICT Building in the campus, away.

And the authorities closed the SUST for an indefinite period following a clash between two students and cops on the campus, asking the students to leave their respective dormitories by January 17.

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