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No sign of end to SUST crisis

Students continue fast-unto-death

Published : 24 Jan 2022 10:26 PM | Updated : 25 Jan 2022 01:25 PM

Twenty-eight Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) students continued their hunger strike on Monday, the sixth consecutive day, demanding resignation of Vice-chancellor Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed.

But there is no sign of ending the stalemate in sight till filing of this report on Monday night.

A total of 20 students have been hospitalised so far after falling seriously ill while eight others are on hunger strike on the campus.

And they have already passed the 125 hours under the open sky amid biting cold without having food and water.

The students are being given intravenous rehydration and nutrition supplements.

They expressed their firm determination to continue the hunger strike until Vice-chancellor Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed steps down.

Besides, the agitating students locked the main gate of the university and they are not allowing any outsider to enter the campus but the students.

The students went on fast unto death demanding resignation of the Vice-chancellor following the police action on the protesting students at his behest on January 16.

The crisis deepened on Monday as its protesting students disconnected electricity supply and gas supply and internet connection to the Vice-Chancellor’s residence as he refused to step down as per their demand.

Meanwhile, Professor Farid Uddin Ahmed on Monday apologised to the students and teachers of Jahangirnagar University for his remarks on female students of the university.

He sought apology to Vice-chancellor of JU, Prof Dr Farzana Islam, over phone on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the University Teachers Network observed a symbolic hunger strike to express solidarity with the protesting students of SUST.

The teachers took position in front of the Aparajeyo Bangla monument on Dhaka University campus.

On the other hand, the teachers’ association of the SUST called upon the government to form a neutral probe body to investigate the police action on the protesting students on January 16.

The teachers demanded the government take actions against the accused after conducting a proper investigation.

The association announced a four-point charter of demand to solve the ongoing unrest on the campus.

They sought the government's assistance to do what it takes to break the hunger strike of the protesting students.

The association said the government has the jurisdiction over the Vice-chancellor’s resignation, and demanded an immediate step in this regard.

It also urged the authorities concerned not to take any violent actions against the students.

They again on Monday urged the President to remove the Vice-chancellor for the sake of the university, the students and their rights, and only then the hunger strike and the protest demonstrations will end.

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 ‘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.

But many students have not left the campus yet, staging demonstrations, taking out processions while 28 have been on hunger strike demanding the Vice-chancellor’s resignation.

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

But they have failed to convince the students as they have made their stand clear that they would not break the hunger strike until the Vice-chancellor resigns.

On the other hand, lawmakers, academics, civil society members and former teachers of the university expressed deep concern over the current situation at SUST.

They also urged the government to take the issue seriously in order to put an end to the crisis.

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 protests 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 to the IICT Building in the campus.

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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