After courting immense controversy over its attack on Dhaka University students, pro-Awami League student body Bangladesh Chhatra League now want to clear the air through discussion with leftist students.
On Thursday, the Awami League top brass asked central leaders of its student front to collect photographs and video footage before holding a press conference to clarify their claims that Chhatra League men were first attacked during the brawl in front of the DU vice-chancellor’s office.
Complying with the instruction, Chhatra League will hold a press briefing at DU’s Madhur Canteen at 11am on Saturday.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, several Chhatra League leaders said they were now looking to reach an understanding with leftist student bodies on the DU campus, in order to resolve the issue and ensure it does not spread to other educational institutions.
Also Read - DU Chhatra League attack students, liberate besieged VC
On Tuesday, over 100 demonstrators, including leftist student leaders and DU students, besieged DU VC Prof Akhtaruzzaman in his office in protest of a previous assault on them by the Chhatra League, as well as in the demand for cancellation of the affiliation of seven government colleges with the university.
According to media reports and witnesses, Chhatra League men, led by its General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain and DU unit President Abid, sprung to action to escort the VC away, punching, slapping, kicking and beating up demonstrators with iron rods in the effort.
At least 30 students were hurt in the attack, with 10 of them undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and DU Medical Centre for severe injuries.
Chhatra League blames the media
A section of Chhatra League leaders castigated the media for highlighting the attack and spreading “lies and propaganda” about the student body.
The media did not focus on the fact that some of the Chhatra League activists were also assaulted by the demonstrators, they claimed.
However, another faction of the student front said there was no reason to showcase the Chhatra League’s strength over such a trivial matter, as the number of demonstrators was small.
Sources from the faction also said they had sought the VC’s assistance in resolving the issue, as he had called in the Chhatra League men to rescue him.
Chhatra League denies allegations
Soon after the incident, the Chhatra League top brass refuted allegations that they attacked the students, claiming that they were not get involved in any such assault.
Instead, they were the ones hurt while trying to save the VC and escort him away, the leaders added.
Chhatra League President Saifur Rahman Sohag claimed no one from his organization took part in any attack on that day.
Also Read - DU students’ alliance calls strike over Chhatra League attack, nationwide scuffles continue
“We will work to help ensure a peaceful, congenial educational environment on the campus,” he added.
When asked whether the VC called in the Chhatra League men to rescue him, the organization’s General Secretary SM Zakir Hossain said: “It cannot be a question to ask. We came to his aid after receiving information from the VC’s office which said that he was in trouble.”
Awami League’s instructions
In a meeting on Thursday, central leaders of the ruling Awami League advised the Chhatra League to maintain a peaceful and congenial atmosphere at all educational institutions, including DU.
Awami League Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Organizing Secretary AKM Enamul Haque Shamim called the meeting at the party office on Bangabandhu Avenue.
Chhatra League leaders raised several issues with them, which the two Awami League leaders said would be conveyed to party chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, according to sources at the meeting.
Following the meeting, Nanak claimed that the attack was premeditated.
[caption id="attachment_242243" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
After escorting the vice-chancellor back to his office, Chhatra League activists armed with rods assaulted protesters, who had been demonstrating against Dhaka University authorities, in and around the administration building on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 Dhaka Tribune
“Chhatra League activists rushed in to rescue the VC,” he said, adding that certain quarters were trying to create anarchy ahead of the general elections slated for December.
Echoing Nanak, the Chhatra League leaders claimed they had no option but to “intervene,” as they had to rescue the VC.
On condition of anonymity, several other leaders of the student body said they were instructed not to obstruct leftist students from holding their protest programs unless they turned violent.
They, however, added that Chhatra League would continue to protest the “assault on the VC by agitators.”
“If the Dhaka University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) wants to hold any program under their banner in protest of the attack on VC Akhtaruzzaman, we will assist them,” said a central Chhatra League leader.
Talks with Chhatra Sangram Parishad
Chhatra League leaders said they would hold talks with Chhatra Sangram Parishad to determine their next course of action in this regard.
Chhatra Sangram Parishad is a coalition of student bodies backed by member parties in the Awami League-led alliance, including several leftist political parties.
Also Read- Chhatra League demands punishment of ‘attackers of DU VC’
They urged Awami League leaders to hold discussions with the DU authorities to ensure punishment of the “outsiders” who patronized the incident.
Chhatra League slams pro-Arefin teachers
At Thursday’s meeting, some Chhatra League leaders criticized teachers loyal to ex-VC Arefin Siddique, saying the teachers were staying silent over the “assault” on the incumbent VC.
“A number of teachers were recruited during Arefin Siddique’s tenure. Despite being pro-Awami League, these teachers preferred to stay silent when the current VC was in trouble,” two Chhatra League leaders said.