Student participation in UPDF-related programs will be considered a punishable offence
The government has instructed the local administration of three districts in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to strictly monitor academic institutions to keep students away from “controversial” regional politics.
The education ministry took the initiative following an intelligence report that United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), a regional party based in the hill areas, is trying to engage students in its politics, said people familiar with the matter.
“The local administration has been asked to monitor the schools and colleges so that students cannot be influenced to take part in activities of the controversial political party UPDF,” said Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary at the Secondary and Higher Education Division.
On June 30, UPDF and its associated wings organized a procession and rally in Khagrachhari town where they reportedly forced school authorities to ask students to participate in their programs in uniform.
Following this incident, the education ministry asked the director general of the Secondary and Higher Education Division to take measures.
A directive issued by the education ministry on September 19 said students’ participation in programs organized by UPDF and its associated organizations will be considered a punishable offence.
Therefore the local administration needs to strictly monitor educational institutions to prevent possible seditious activities, it said.
The Secondary and Higher Education Division also issued show cause notices to schools that sent students to the programs.
On November 19 last year, the education ministry issued a similar directive to the local administration after anti-state messages were written on a banner at a local college.
At a freshers’ reception held in August that year at a local college organized by UPDF, the banner read: “Full autonomy is the only solution to Chittagong Hill Tracts.”
UPDF was formed in 1998 with the aim of seeking full autonomy in the three Chittagong Hill Tracts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.