Dhaka, Bangladesh
FF quota reform not possible: PM

FF quota reform not possible: PM

Quota leader Suhel held

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out abolishing the quota reserved for freedom fighters' families in government jobs. In her closing speech at the budget session on Thursday, she cited a High Court verdict in support of her position on the quota issue. The prime minister also said the government will neither meet the protesters' demand for release of those arrested on charges of attacking the Dhaka University VC's house during protests, reports bdnews24.com. The quota protesters are not clear about their demand, Hasina observed. "We asked them repeatedly what they wanted, but they could not say it in clear terms," she said. "The High Court in a verdict said quota for freedom fighters will be preserved. Then how will we violate the court verdict? We can't do that," she added.The quota system allows the government to preserve 56 percent posts in public jobs for different quotas. These quotas include 30 percent for families of freedom fighters, 10 percent for women, 10 percent for particular districts, 5 percent for small ethnic groups, and 1 percent for people with disabilities. Students and jobseekers have been protesting against the system, demanding that the total posts preserved for different quotas be brought down to 10 percent. The protests reached peak when they clashed with police and Bangladesh Chhatra League activists on the Dhaka University campus in April. The protests halted when the prime minister told parliament on Apr 11 that she would rather have the quota system abolished than see students create chaos, miss classes and cause public suffering. A committee has recently been formed to review the quota system in government jobs following Hasina's comments in parliament in April as the protests continued for a gazette notification clarifying the abolishment of quotas. "Yes, I had asked for abolishing the total quota system, but there is a High Court verdict on it. I will face contempt of court charges if I do this (abolish quota)," she said on Thursday "We have formed a committee with the cabinet secretary in it. They (protesters) have seen it. Then what's their problem?" she asked. UNB adds: Opposition Leader Raushon Ershad on Thursday urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament to consider the demand of students to reform the quota system with sympathy as she has a motherly heart. In her winding-up speech in the budget session of the House, she also called upon the Prime Minister to increase the age-limit to 35 for entering government jobs and fix 65 year as the retirement age. "There's confusion among our children about quota. It's usual that they'll seek jobs on completion of their studies.It's also usual for them staging demonstration (demanding quota reforms). They're our children. We must ensure jobs for them," Raushon said. She further said: "I would like to urge the Prime Minister through you [Speaker) to consider the quota reform issue with sympathy. I know our Prime Minister has a motherly heart. I, therefore, request you to consider the issue. I know she'll do it as she loves the country and its people." Stating that some 5 crore capable people currently remain unemployed in the country, the Opposition Leader called upon the government to focus on job creation. "You (govt) will have to create jobs. Or else, the young generation will take the wrong path." She also said the unemployment leads to an increase in drug peddling as many jobless youths get engaged in it for making money. Raushon suggested the government to take steps for rapid industrialisation in the country for generating jobs for unemployed youths. She also underscored the need for increasing the budgetary allocation for the education sector. "It's regrettable that the allocation proposed for the education sector is very low. It should have got the highest allocation." The Opposition Leader urged the government to take proper steps for ensuring quality education so that students can qualify for better jobs also in the private sector. Raushon also urged the government to give proper attention to improving the country's healthcare services so that people need not to go abroad for better treatment. "We need to build proper infrastructure and appoint adequate number of doctors and nurses alongside procuring all modern equipment for improving the healthcare services. She also talked about different issues, including environment pollution, food adulteration, rundown roads and traffic jams in the capital and decentralisation, and urged the government to take necessary steps. The opposition leader criticised the Finance Minister for what she said keeping incentives in the budget for 2018-19 fiscal for those involved in plundering banks. "But, there's no incentive for common people." She urged the government to take necessary measures for reforming the banking sector and checking plundering, and ensure good governance in the sector. About the current 10th parliament, Raushon said this parliament is the most effective and successful one in the history of Bangladesh, no matter who says what about it. "Many people criticise the present parliament. But no parliament in the past, especially in the last 20 to 25 years, was as effective as the present one. Detectives reportedly picked up APM Suhel, a leader of quota reform movement, up from a house in the city's Shantinagar area early Thursday. Lucky Akhter, a former leader of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, a left-leaning student body, came up with the claim of Suhel's detention on her Facebook page. In her Facebook post, Lucky said, "A team of DB police, numbering 8-10, entered my house around 4:15 am and picked Suhel up as he was at my house at that time." Suhel, a joint convener of Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Council and student of Jagannath University English department, went to her house and stayed there overnight, she said. "The DB men also checked the mobile phone and computer at my house though they behaved well with me and my family members," said Lucky in the Facebook post. "The DB men also interrogated Suhel for one and half an hour after handcuffing him," she said. "When asked, the DB men replied that they took Suhel with them for interrogation over quota-related matter," she added. Contacted, Deputy Commissioner (media) of DMP Masudur Rahman denied the allegation.

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