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Dhaka University teachers and students beaten up

Dhaka University teachers and students beaten up and detained

By Bobby Ramakant

Many Dhaka University teachers and students were manhandled and detained for staging a peaceful protest in Bangladesh. They were questioning the presence of Army camp at the Central stadium of the Dhaka University for which they were brutally beaten up by army and police forces and several of them detained.

Several civil rights' organizations in the world have strongly condemned the attack on the University faculty and students. Asha Parivar, an international network of individuals who are committed to establish a just and humane social order free of all discriminations based on religion, caste, gender, race, nationality, class, education, age, political power, muscle/military power, employer-employee relationship (and similar human created categories which become the basis for discrimination and domination), has condemned the attack by army and police on the University staff and students.

"The quality of education and the prevalence of campus violence in Bangladesh, particularly in institutions of higher education, and their unavoidable interaction, are some of the major concerns in the country's educational sector" reported a Dhaka University Press publication 'Quality of Education and campus violence; in 2000. Despite of these reports, the grim scene in the university hasn't changed much over the past years.

Campus violence is not just limited to Bangladesh. In India too, especially northern state universities are ridden with campus violence. "Instead of enhancing the standards of these seats of learning the faculty members have to bother about how to just keep the normal affairs going" said Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey, who is also the convener of India's largest network of people's movements - NAPM (National Alliance of People's Movements).

Not only army and police manhandled the protesting Dhaka University students and teachers, but also five professors including the general secretary of the Dhaka University Teachers Association Dr Anwar Hossein, who is also the Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Molecular Sciences, were detained by the military backed interim government of Bangladesh under the Emergency Rules.

The students were staging a peaceful protest against the presence of Army Camp at the Central stadium of the university when army and police mercilessly started beating them up in their attempt to nip the growing resistance from students and faculty members against presence of Army Camp on-campus.

Dr Anwar who is among the five professors arrested, had also led a movement earlier against immediate past BNP-Jaamaat-e-Islami regime whose police had molested a female student of the same university and had later raided the female dormitory at midnight and took many of the protesting female students to the police custody on 28 July 2002. There has not been any significant decrease in violence and sexual harassment on campuses; in fact, the violence has become increasingly raucous.

Dr Sandeep Pandey adds that "sadly there is a complete normalisation of violence in institutions of education. The outbreak of violence and lawlessness on campuses of educational institutions is regrettable. Today's need is the reorientation of the educational structure. Education should be made vocational and humane," adds Dr Pandey.

Activists of NAPM and Asha Parivar (www.ashaparivar.org) have condemned the detention of students and five professors and demanded their immediate and unconditional release from the state's custody. Km Sabir, senior advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, has supported the struggle not only to release the detained professors and students, but also to restore a more conducive environment on-campus for learning.

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The author is a development journalist writing columns for newspapers in Asiaand AfricaHe can be contacted at: bobbyramakant@yahoo.com

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