Dhaka, Bangladesh
No blanket ban on student politics

No blanket ban on student politics

PM says BUET free to decide on its own political purge

News Report: No blanket ban on student politics but individual educational institutions can opt for the taboo if deemed necessary, including the troubled Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. "Why ban student politics? I myself am a product of student politics," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Wednesday to questions from journalists hot on the heels of a strong plea from current students and alumni of BUET following the murder of an engineering student of the varsity. In a fast development in the meantime, the BUET teachers' association, in solidarity with the demonstrating students, decided to ban student politics on the campus. "We've decided to ban student politics at the university," one spokesman announced after a decision taken at the association meeting, as the teachers also faced with morality question after the grim discoveries at the premier seat of learning. It was pointed out at the PM's press meet that despite a strong message having been sent in by herself through the axing of two top leaders of her party's student body, misdeeds by a section of student politicos are not finding letup as the suspects in Abrarar Fahad killing, so far arrested, are Chhatra League leaders and workers of its BUET unit. The bludgeoning to death of the engineering student at his hall triggered countrywide campus protests and an apparent village revolt at his native place in Kushtia. The university remained under a lockdown on an extended ten-point demand of the students and a seven-point demand of its former students, including one calling for a ban on campus politics. As regards the BUET case the head of government said the university authorities are free to decide on banning student politics at the varsity if they want to. The prime minister, who has launched a political purge in her own party fold avowedly to stamp out 'corruption' and 'wrongdoings', told the media at her post-foreign-tour press conference that she is now going to order a crackdown to flush out "hoodlums" and "criminals" from educational institutions and dormitories. Her purge plan for academic arena seems prompted by reports on 'torture cells' set up at the BUET dorms and horrendous stories of 'repression' on general students in a hushed-up ambience kept unraveling following the latest tragedy. A girl student, Sabequnnahar Sony, was also killed in the crossfire during campus fighting between two factions of JCD years back, protesters and analysts are pointing out in demanding a ban on student politics in affiliation with national political parties. The reshuffled top leadership of the Bangladesh Chhatra League also stood opposed to moratorium on student politics, smelling certain plot by "vicious circles to destabilize the country" and help communal elements penetrate the academia. At a press conference Wednesday the pro-government student body, however, pleaded for the highest punishment of those found involved in the murder of Abrar, whoever they may be. "If BUET thinks fit, it can ban (student politics). We will not interfere," the PM said to query about her stance over the demand for banning student politics following Abrar Fahad's nemesis. She said student politics in general cannot be prohibited following a single incident. The AL president noted that political training is imperative for sound national politics, and it's student politics that provides that scope. About the murder of Abrar, the prime minister warned of stern action against the killers irrespective of their political affiliation, even if it is Chhatra League. "Whatever the political identity of an offender, maximum punishment will be meted out," she said. She addressed the press conference at her Ganobhaban residence in Dhaka about the outcome of her recent visit to the UN General Assembly and India. Some of the analysts are of the view that the student politics linked to power politics of in particular has lost purpose as this brand of campus politicos have nothing to do with movement against aggregation, colonial rule, exploitation or allocations and facilities for education as they are associated with government policy of the day. "Rather they get pampered on realpolitik through toll extortion, tender hooliganism and turn Frankenstein's monsters," said Prof AK Fazlul Haque, Prof Mezba Kamal, architect Mubassher Hossain and some other talk-show speakers on an identical note. Some others are of the opinion that academic arenas are not isolated islands and so the social and moral rot getting exposed through the current anti-wrongdoing crackdown and political purge cannot leave the student politicians immune from its pervasive impact. (Inputs taken from live media coverage)

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