In light of the recent deposing of two Chhatro League leaders, the Business Standard has spoken with Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor, University of Dhaka and Iftekharujjaman, executive director, Transparency International Bangladesh about legal actions
In the face of extortion allegations against them, firing the senior most leaders of Chhatro League – Shovon and Rabbani, is primarily a step in the right direction. However, this is not enough. If these actions are to be taken as a treatment for the symptom of disease, they are fine. Nonetheless, for the cure of the disease, we must delve deeper with due process.
Firstly, since the accused have been student leaders of a political party and stripped of their occupied positions, this whole matter should be investigated through proper channel. In regards of this investigation, only the engagement of the concerned university will not suffice. Given that there lies serious allegations of extortions and corruptions; Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should also be engaged. The ACC should identify the culprits and bring them to justice. Because when crime is committed, law should be implemented irrespective of position and status.
Secondly, since there have been allegations of exchanging of money, there must have been more than one party involved. In such cases, involved people from the both end are responsible, equally. Thus, the whole investigation process should be robust and comprehensive so that no one involved can escape scapegoating the other.
Thirdly, since these allegations of extortions involve the leadership of a political party, it is not reasonable to believe that the involvement in this corruption was limited only within the deposed leaders. It may have wider participation. The latest exposure may have been the tip of an iceberg. To unmask it all, there must have to be extensive investigation.
What we have learned through this scandal is actually not a unique incident in the political spectrum of the country. The students involved in politics, at large, learn things from their seniors and political role models. In this circumstance, we want to change the system for real. I believe the concerned political parties should ensure the scope of self-criticism and face the mirrors.
Changing the leadership of Chhatro League will not change the scenario because the way they come to leadership itself is not through a democratic process. It is often observed that the yardstick for choosing Chhatro League leaders is not one's political knowledge and understanding, but one's political connections.
When the process of appointing the leadership is so undemocratic, it motivates them to get involved in crimes—which they do not perpetrate alone. The overthrown Chhatro League leaders' haughty activity in Jahangirnagar University incidentally came to our knowledge. However, corruption and extortion are routine affairs in ongoing development projects.
Charging the deposed leaders for their crime is important. Whether legal actions will be taken against them or not, largely depends on the willingness of the political leadership.
It is, however, easy to allege against the deposed Chhatro League leaders now in the given situation. But along with them, what about the process that allows things to go on like the way they are now? What about the way our vice-chancellors are appointed or how they are being accused of distributing commissions?
These are public institutions. It must be brought to accountability so that the money allocated here is not poorly spent. If we do not fix our institutions and the systems as a whole, just removing the perpetrators instead of addressing the real issues will not solve the crisis.