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Quota seekers continue demo
Youths under the banner of Muktijoddha Sangsad Santan Command continued their agitation for the fifth consecutive day yesterday demanding reinstatement of quota in government jobs. Quota reform movement activists, meanwhile, hailed the gazette notification abolishing the quota system but said they did not seek complete abolition of the system and sought reforms only in the light of their five-point charter of demands.
The Dhaka University (DU) unit of Bangladesh Muktujoddha Sontan Command (BMSC), a platform of the descendants of freedom fighters, continued their blockade of Shahbagh crossing in Dhaka for the fifth consecutive day to demand reinstatement of the 30 per cent quota in government jobs, resulting in suspension of traffic in surrounding roads.
The Jahangirnagar University (JU) unit of BMSC), and two other platforms for ethnic minorities and physically-challenged people—Adivasi Quota Sangrakkhan Parishad and Bangladesh Pratibandhi Shikkharthi Oikkya Parishad— also staged protests against the abolition of quota.
DU teacher AKM Jamal Uddin, who is the convener of Muktijuddho Mancha, told a press briefing yesterday evening that they will continue with the blockade till their demands were met. He, however, added that from today, the blockade will be held from 3pm to 10pm considering the suffering of the public.
He announced that his platform will block highways across the country from 10am to 11am today to press home their demands. He also demanded the immediate resignation of
the Cabinet secretary. Students from the JU unit of BMSC blocked Dhaka-Aricha highway from noon to 4pm to demand reinstatement of 30 per cent quota for descendants of freedom fighters in government jobs.
JUÕs pro-VC (education) Professor Md Amir Hussain, pro-VC (administration) Professor Nurul Alam and registrar Rahima Kaniz went to the spot around 2pm and met the agitating students.
They pleaded with the agitators to lift the blockade considering the ongoing admission test of the university for the 2018–19 academic session and public suffering. The protesters finally relented to do so around 4pm.
The convenor of BMSCÕs JU unit, Shihab Uddin, said, ÒWe have postponed our blockade for today considering public suffering and the assurances of the JU administration.Ó He, however, added that they would continue with their protests if their demand was not considered by the government.
The pro-VC (education) held a press meet on the spot. ÒWe urge the Prime Minister to reinstate 30 per cent reservation for the children of freedom fighters to show respect for their sacrifices for the country,Ó he said.
Several ambulances carrying critical patients were trapped in heavy traffic snarls caused by the four-hour long blockade of the highway by the quota seekers.
Bangladesh Pratibandhi Shikkharthi Oikkya Parishad announced that it would submit a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today and hold a rally in the afternoon to demand five per cent reservation for them in first and second class government jobs, which was one per cent before the abolishment, and 10 per cent quota in third and fourth class jobs.
Platform convener Ali Hossain announced the programme at a press conference at Shahbagh yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh General StudentsÕ Rights Protection Council, which spearheaded the quota reform movement, welcomed the government decision, but said they did not seek complete abolition of the quota system, they just wanted reforms in line with their 5-point charter of demands.
The demands include: reducing the quota from 56 per cent to 10 per cent, filling in the vacant positions from the merit list if eligible candidate is not found from the quota, and limiting the use of quota privilege.
Addressing a press briefing in front of the DU Central Library, the joint convener of the anti-quota studentsÕ platform, Faruk Hasan, said the government move was positive, but not everyone was happy with the circular that abolished the quota system.
Faruk clarified that they never wanted the complete abolition of reservation in government jobs, but only demanded reforms of the quota system.
He also demanded the withdrawal of alleged false cases against anti-quota protesters and punishment for their attackers.
Another joint convener of the platform, Nurul Haque Nur, said they had also demanded the reformation in third and fourth class jobs as well.
He further said that a logical amount of quota might be reserved for those who are in a backward position, but that should be in line with their five-point charter of demands.
In a written statement, platform convener Hasan Al Mamun said special recruitment in government jobs will not be accepted by the general students and the remaining quota system in third and fourth class jobs should also be reformed.
On October 4, the public administration ministry had issued a circular scrapping the existing quota system and said the recruitment for first (ninth grade) and second class (10th–13th grade) government jobs will be on merit basis.
Earlier on April 11, PM Sheikh Hasina had announced scrapping reservation in government jobs amid protests by general students for reformation of the quota system. The agitation for quota reformation had started across the country in mid-January.