August campus protests
No single recommendation implementedSardar Mahabbat Ali
The government has yet to take any action, in line with the recommendations the parliamentary standing committee on the education ministry made, against the people in connection with the violence and protests of August 2007 in Dhaka University that resulted from the presence of military personnel on the campus.
Although the committee, after hearings that spanned about a year, submitted its report making with 13 recommendations to check the recurrence of such incidents, not a single recommendation has as yet been implemented.
Dhaka University students took to the streets on August 20 in protest at students being assaulted by some military personnel and the protests continued till August 22. The protests also spilled over to other educational institutions and the temporary army camp set up in the university playground was later pulled off.
University authorities also have not implemented any of the recommendations the report made for them. The report said that awareness should be created among teachers and students by observing the day so that such incidents would not recur.
Almost close to five years of the incident, it appears that the incident is likely top go unmarked as the authorities and student bodies, who had led the movement, were giving excuses of Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja holidays.
Rashed Khan Memon, chairman of the house committee on the education ministry, expressed his dissatisfaction as the committee recommendations to keep campuses congenial for academic activities had not been implemented.
‘It is frustrating as we have detected the reasons for the violence and recommended action against the offenders,’ he said.
The committee in the report blamed the then chief adviser to the caretaker government Fakhruddin Ahmed and the then chief of army staff Moeen U Ahmed for the campus violence and recommended legal action against them.
The committee also recommended action against five military and police officers including sacked major general ATM Amin and former brigadier general Chowdhury Fazlul Bari, now absconding in the United States, and Colonel Shamsul Alam.
All of them had worked with the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence and played a significant role in the January 11, 2007 political changeover by directly interfering in political activities.
Former inspector general of police Noor Muhammad was also blamed for unleashing state violence on teachers and students in August 2007.
In its 11-point observation, the report said that blatant interference by the DGFI and other intelligence agencies and their excesses had led to clashes on the campus.
Fakhruddin and Moeen in their statements during investigation claimed themselves to be innocent. But the four-member sub-committee, set up on September 19, 2010, held them responsible for the ‘planned’ violence.
The investigation committee interviewed victims, collected clippings of news reports and photographs, and video footage aired by television channels.
Besides suggesting withdrawal of all lawsuits filed against the students and teachers and compensation from the state to the victims of atrocities, it also emphasised holding elections to central students’ unions in all public universities. The then caretaker government set up a one-member judicial investigation which submitted the report suggesting that university teachers should be barred from political activities.
As for implementation of the suggestions, the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, AAMS Arefin Siddique, told New Age that the university would mark the day to avoid the recurrence of such incidents but it would be delayed till August 28 for festival holidays.
‘We are taking all precautions by marking the day and urging the government to ensure punishment of the people accused,’ he added.
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