Seven-year agitation draws blank, no halls for Jagannath University students
Kazi Nafia Rahman, bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-08-19 23:48:03.0 BdST Updated: 2016-08-20 06:33:45.0 BdST
Jagannath University students could recover two halls captured by influential people in their nonstop movement in past seven years.
They have also taken hold of a piece of land for a women’s hall, but they are not so fortunate to live in any hall.
The students of the university, established in 2005, are now demanding halls at the place in Old Dhaka where the old central jail was situated.
They say most of the houses used by them decades ago, when the university was operating as a college, have been grabbed by influential people.
The demonstrators allege the authorities are not paying any attention to renovate the two halls they had recovered.
The work to build two new halls has also stalled.
The students demonstrated in front of the National Press Club on Wednesday and staged a strike on Thursday for a new hall at the abandoned jail at Nazimuddin Road.
They have also called a strike for Sunday and threatened to intensify the movement by submitting a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, if the demand is not met within the day.
He told bdnews24.com that letters have been sent to the prime minister, education minister, home minister and the Prime Minister’s Office following a decision taken in an academic council meeting on Aug 14.
The authorities applied for the jail land to lease in 2014 but the government has not taken a decision.
“The government said our issue will be considered while taking the decision,” he said.
Nine halls grabbed
Influential people have been using nine residential halls of the then Jagannath College for three decades.
Students once lived in the houses abandoned by Hindus, but could not take hold of them due to complications over papers.
According to reports published in the media in the 1980s, the students had lived in the houses until 1985.
The home ministry closed six halls after the students of Shaheed Abdur Rahman Hall clashed with locals in Armanitola on Feb 8 that year.
The hall is now under police’s control.
MP Haji Mohammad Salim allegedly captured the Tibet Hall at GL Partho Lane and set up a market by demolishing it.
The students clashed with locals in a failed attempt to recover the land in 1990s.
Police and local people take hold of Abdur Rahman Hall of Jagannath University at Battala, Armanitola. Photo: Qamruzzaman/ bdnews24.com/ Dhaka, July 13, 2007
The Shaheed Anwar Shafique Hall at Mahuttuli in Armanitola has also been taken razed to the ground. The 40-katha land is being used as a warehouse. (1 katha = 1.65 decimals)
Saidur Rahman Hall and Rauf Majumder Hall have been turned into hardware shops.
Police had taken control of Shaheed Ajmal Hossain Hall and Shaheed Shahabuddin Hall. Now local influential people are using these buildings.
Thousands of students tried to recover the halls in 2014 but police and locals thwarted them.
University Registrar Ohiduzzaman said an agency was supposed to make a report on Ajmal Hall, but it has not been submitted.
The city corporation is running Shaheed Ziaur Rahman High School at Bajlur Rahman Hall in Malitola.
Apart from these nine halls, powerful people have grabbed the building for third and fourth-class employees of the university and set up a market in Patuatuli.
The first serious demonstration to recover the grabbed halls was held on Jan 27, 2009.
The students have since been demonstrating every year for new halls.
An investigation committee was formed in February 2009 to find ways to recover the halls on the education ministry’s orders.
The committee recommended leasing Anwar Shafique Hall, Shahabuddin Hall, Ajmal Hall, Tibet Hall and Habibur Rahman Hall to the university in March that year.
The university applied for the halls to the land ministry which ordered the deputy commissioner of Dhaka in July to take measures in line with Vested Property Act.
The following year, the DC recommended acquirement of the halls instead of lease by the university due to legal complexities.
But there has been no progress in recovering the halls.
Dr Habibur Rahman Hall in Bangshal and Nazrul Islam Hall at Gopimohan Bosak Lane were handed over to the university in 2011 and 2014, but the authorities are yet to start renovating them.
Asked about the old halls, Registrar Ohiduzzaman said the authorities cannot turn their focus on them before constructing the new ones.
The agitating students, however, think the authorities have no interest in the new halls either.
They say the authorities speak of new halls to calm students whenever they demand that the old ones be recovered.
The authorities launched construction of three halls, including two for women, but there is no visible progress in the projects.
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