Protesters urge Hasina to keep BUET free from student politics

They say even Bangabandhu kept BUET out of politics because he realised the institution is different in nature

Dhaka University
Published : 2 April 2024, 07:17 PM
Updated : 2 April 2024, 07:17 PM

Students protesting against recent political activities at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology or BUET have appealed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to keep the institution a politics-free zone. 

To reinforce their request, they highlighted the precedent set by the founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who had kept BUET free from politics because he realised the institution is different in nature. 

In an open letter addressed to Hasina, they invited her to the campus and see firsthand how it has evolved into an exemplary seat of learning in the past few years following a ban on student politics. 

BUET clamped the ban in 2019 after the killing of student Abrar Fahad by activists of the ruling Awami League’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League. 

Amid fresh protests, the university cancelled the seat in a residential hall of a BCL activist recently after he invited some central leaders to the campus. 

Following a writ petition by the BCL activist, the High Court on Monday suspended the ban and asked why it should not be lifted permanently.

The protesters then urged the BUET authorities to have the ban retained through a legal battle. 

In the letter to Hasina, read out on the campus on Tuesday, they reflected on Bangabandhu's vision for BUET, emphasising its significance and calling for its realisation. 

They expressed concern that disregarding his ideals by reintroducing politics to BUET would constitute an insult to the legacy of the figure they regard as "the Greatest Bengali of All Time". 

Addressing the prime minister directly, the protesters implored, "Please implement the policy and realise Bangabandhu's vision for BUET. Keep student politics away from our campus, and amend the law if necessary, because the law is created for justice.” 

They argued that student politics in the past only revealed its negative sides, such as ragging, fight for control, extortion, and torture. 

Before Abrar, Sabequn Nahar Sony and Arif Raihan Dip were killed because of politics, they said. 

Sony was shot dead during clashes between rival factions of the BNP’s student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal over control in 2002 when the party was in power.

Dip, a BCL leader, was hacked to death at a residential hall in 2013 by another student suspected to have ties with radical group Hifazat-e Islam. 

The students highlighted the positive changes during the ban on student politics, noting that BUET had become the safest, most academically conducive, with a noticeable increase in research activity. 

They argued "these achievements of over four years" demonstrated the university's capacity to contribute to the vision of a "Smart Bangladesh" through leadership built on technological expertise. 

BCL has accused the protesters of serving the agenda of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir and banned militant outfit Hizb-ut Tahrir.

The protesters, however, vowed to resist any sort of activities linked to these organisations on the campus in the letter. 

They also promised her that BUET will move up in the ranking of the top global universities "in a few years" if the politics-free environment is maintained. 

They concluded with a plea for her support to ensure their progress remains unimpeded.