Some 50 protestors, including teachers and students, have vowed to continue demonstrations demanding the resignation of Vice Chancellor Professor Farzana Islam
Jahangirnagar University campus, that was abuzz with students just a day before, was almost deserted on Wednesday following the shut-down of the university and an order to vacate all dormitories in the wake of protests.
A large contingent of police has been deployed in a bid to execute the university's decision to have all the halls vacated at any cost. All students of the university left the dorms by Wednesday afternoon out of fear.
On Tuesday, students were asked to leave the dormitories by 5:30pm the same day, but many of them had already vacated the dormitories. The university later gave verbal permission to those students who could not leave the halls by that deadline, to vacate the dormitories by 10am on Wednesday. The deadline was extended till 1pm, and finally to 4pm.
However, some 50 protestors, including teachers and students, have vowed to continue demonstrations demanding the resignation of Vice Chancellor Professor Farzana Islam.
A large contingent of police cordoned off a sit-in programme by protesters in front of the VC's residence at 4:30pm.
The presence of a large police force on campus shows the university's determination to force students to leave by creating a climate of fear and intimidation.
Before the expiry of the last deadline at 4pm, the president of the Provost Committee, Professor Bashir Ahmed, said that they will do everything to execute the university's decision to clear the dorms, even by force, if need be.
He said, "We have decided to ask the police to clear the dorms today (Wednesday) because the protestors are still living there and are staging protests on campus."
The protesters, including teachers and students, were continuing their sit-in programme in front of the VC's residence till this report was filed at 8:30pm. Even though the dorms have been locked, the protesting students said they will stay at the halls and continue their programme the next day.
"We will continue the protest daily on campus to press home our demands," said Professor Rayhan Rayne of the Philosophy Department of the university, and also the convener of the movement under the banner of 'Durnitir Biruddhe Jahangirnagar'.
"We will hold a rally at Murad Chattar at 10am tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.
In the meantime, the university issued a notice at 8pm saying that students who live off-campus will not be allowed to enter.
The university was closed for an indefinite period on November 5 after the ruling party's student wing attacked protesting teachers and students, leaving at least 20 injured.
However, no Chhatra League leaders and activists were seen on campus when the protest programme was going on.
JU protestors urge chancellor to remove VC
Protesting teachers and students started gathering in front of Pritilota Hall at 10am, then formed a procession that paraded the campus.
Later, they held a rally in front of the old administration building on campus at 12noon. The rally ended at 4pm.
They urged the Chancellor to remove Vice-chancellor Farzana Islam and punish her under criminal law.
They also vowed to continue demonstrations until the vice-chancellor is removed.
Terming the VC a liar and hypocrite, the protestors said she had ordered Bangladesh Chhatra League, JU unit, to attack the protestors on Tuesday.
Kamrul Hasan, a professor of the philosophy department, said, "The vice-chancellor told us that she had called members of the Chhatra League for a casual discussion on September 12."
"However, a day later, she informed us that the Chhatra League leaders want to extort six percent of the development project budget of the university," he added.
He further said that the vice-chancellor lied to the teachers and played a dubious role, and therefore does not deserve to hold the position.
Professor Anu Muhammad of the economics department at Jahangirnagar University was present at the rally as the chief guest.
He said, Vice-Chancellor Farzana Islam is deeply involved in corruption and abuse of power.
"She has been patronising hooliganism in the university which has resulted in the current situation. This crisis will not be resolved until the VC is removed," he added.
"The present VC was not elected. That is why she always takes anti-democratic decisions without considering the interests of the teachers and students – it's not a good sign for the university," Anu Muhammad added.
He also said, "The government has not formed a committee to investigate the corruption of the VC. The protesters will launch a tough movement if the VC is not removed."
Prof Sharminda Nirmali Talia of the economics department said, "Chhatra League was persuaded by Prof Farzana to attack the students yesterday [Tuesday]. Yesterday's attack was a crime; therefore, the perpetrators must be brought to book under criminal law."
Another teacher of the Environmental Science department, Jamaluddin, said: "The syndicate decided to close the university to save Chhatra League from the wrath of the protesters."
During the rally earlier in the day, the protesting students also expressed determination to continue staying in the dorms.
Najir Amin Chowdhury Joy, president of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, JU unit, told The Business Standard that students had rejected the university's decision to clear the halls.
"We will stay in the halls," he said.
For the last 13 days, a number of students and teachers of Jahangirnagar University have been demonstrating on campus under the banner "Jahangirnagar against Corruption," demanding VC Farzana's resignation on allegations of corruption.
On Tuesday, the university was closed for an indefinite period after 20 people were injured in an attack on protesters, allegedly by members of Chhatra League's JU unit.