Warnings not working

BCL Gone Haywire
Hasan Jahid Tusher
The unruly activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League can be reined in only if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina plays a serious role, observed some leaders of the ruling Awami League.

Talking to The Daily Star recently, they said extortion, tender manipulation, admission trade and other crimes by BCL men have dented the government’s image badly in last 17 months.

Despite repeated warnings from the government and party high-ups, Chhatra Leaguers continue doing things that have been embarrassing the government from day one.

The rowdy elements in the student organisation operate with impunity, as they have the backing of some influential AL leaders, they added.

Hasina, also AL president, must acknowledge that her government cannot afford to let the situation go downhill.

Wishing not to be named, a senior leader said, “Chhatra League can be controlled only if she [Hasina] seriously intervenes. But I doubt if she’s sincere enough in this regard.”

To turn things around, she must not confine herself to issuing warnings against BCL men. She will have to follow through to make sure her directives are carried out, he added.

Sheikh Hasina cut her official relations with BCL on April 4 last year as per the Representation of People Order.

Since taking over, she has announced on several occasions that her government would show zero tolerance for violence in the name of student politics.

She also asked the authorities concerned to take stern actions against the BCL men who would commit crimes.

But her directives went unheeded.

Lately, she has assigned three AL organising secretaries–Jahangir Kabir Nanak, BM Mojammel Haque and Ahmed Hossain–to look after Chhatra League.

One of the three said they can only advise BCL and take no measures.

Ahmed Hossain, however, claimed the situation has “improved a bit” due to their efforts. He however would not elaborate on what they have done since being assigned by the party chief.

Meanwhile, some AL insiders alleged that some top BCL leaders who shelter unruly activists are frequently seen at Gono Bhaban. As they are allowed access to the prime minister’s residence, they may feel “somewhat protected” by her. And this may be one of the reasons these leaders and activists are hard to control.

An official of the prime minister’s office said as they do not have any instructions from above, they do not bar the student leaders.

Syed Ashraful Islam, AL general secretary and LGRD minister, recently said the party would have to pay dearly for the activities of its youth and student workers.

AL leaders cannot skirt their responsibilities for the mistakes and misdeeds by Chhatra League and Jubo League, he told a gathering at Srinagar upazila in Munshiganj.

Many of his party colleagues share the view. They say BCL needs to be checked before it is too late.

Under these circumstances, some top leaders and ministers including Matia Chowdhury, Obaidul Quader and Mahbubul Alam Hanif have been keeping themselves away from BCL programmes. The three have even given up speaking about the issue.

Meanwhile, party sources said the AL high command has differences of opinions over how to control student leaders and activists. While some want sterner actions against the wrongdoers, others think forming new committees with regular students may offer a solution.

Then there are others who want BCL politics to be banned so the Chhatra Leaguers cannot bring any more dishonour on the government.

Leaders of the student body, on the other hand, say the organisation has to be freed from the “clutches of Awami League leaders, lawmakers and former student leaders”.

Talking to The Daily Star, BCL Joint General Secretary Iqbal Mahmud Bablu said establishing the chain of command by reconstituting committees across the country with regular students is a must.

Besides, he added, the central committee would have to be made accountable to AL leaders designated by the party president.

BCL IN LAST ONE WEEK

At least 50 people including journalists, politicians and police were injured in a clash between Chhatra League factions over student union election at a college in Gopalganj on June 17.

BCL men beat up some 25 leaders and workers of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal on Dhaka University campus on June 21.

On June 22, the ruling party’s student activists assaulted the principal of Pabna Govt Bulbul College, as the college authorities did not meet their demand for “admission quota”.

The admission process at Azizul Haq College in Bogra and Hatia Government College in Noakhali was suspended as BCL men went on the rampage demanding the so-called admission quota on June 23.

Asked what actions have been taken against the wrongdoers, BCL President Mahmud Hasan Ripon said they would investigate the incidents and take disciplinary measures against those who would be found responsible.

thedailystar