A delegation from the Dhaka University student protests calling for reforms to civil service quotas will meet with Awami League Secretary General Obaidul Quader at the Awami League offices in Dhanmondi following overnight violence on campus.
Hasan Al Mamun, the spokesperson for the students and job seekers protesting under the banner of the “Council to Protect Bangladesh General Students’ Rights” made the announcement to the media at 2:30pm on Monday.
“Ten boys and ten girls from our group will go to the Awami League offices in Dhanmondi to speak with AL General Secretary and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader,” said the postgraduate student at Dhaka University Department of Islamic History.
“We will make further decisions afterwards. The protests will continue until then.”
Hasan Al Mamun spoke to the police in front of the Bangla Academy before speaking to the media and requested police not use teargas on the student protesters or attack them.
“We have requested police not to attack us,” he said to the protesters occupying the area by the Raju Memorial Sculpture. “I also request you not to throw brickbats at police.”
“This way the organisers will not have to fear for their lives or lose them senselessly. Do not pass the barricades. We will decide on the next steps under the meeting. But keep protesting until then.”
The ‘Council to Protect Bangladesh General Students’ Rights’ has staged several protests calling for reforms to the civil service quotas.
On Mar 14, the protesters attempted to deliver a five-point petition to the Secretariat, but the police dispersed the demonstration and made several arrests.
Sunday’s agitation at the Shahbag intersection was a part of this series of protests.
The protesters took positions at the Raju Memorial Sculpture on the DU campus around 11pm.
Addressing the gathering, DU student Hasan Al Mamun, the convenor of the council, announced an indefinite strike at all educational institutions across the country from Monday.
Later, the protests spread out across the campus and vandalised several vehicles.
Around a thousand protesters marched in a procession to the Shahbagh intersection and occupied the streets at 2:30pm, halting traffic in the area.
The protesters said they would not leave the street until reforms were made to the quota system in the civil service.
Police water cannons were deployed in the area but did not use them until the evening.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Maruf Hossain Sarder said in the afternoon they had requested the protesters not to create public suffering.
Police started to lob teargas and charge baton on the protesters around 8pm. The law enforcers also detained some of the protesters from the scene.
After being chased by the police in the DU campus, some of the protesters gathered flammable objects on the street and set fire to them in front of the Faculty of Fine Arts.
A group of activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League attacked the protesters when they moved back towards the TSC. BCL leaders Motaher Hossain Prince, general secretary of its Dhaka University unit, Al Nahian Khan Joy, legal affairs secretary of the BCL central committee, and BCL Publicity Secretary Saif Babu were there.
Prince told reporters that they “only tried to prevent the protesters who had tried to vandalise the TSC”.
Facing protests by the jobseekers demanding an overhaul of the system, the public administration ministry announced a decision relaxing it on Mar 6, but the demonstrations continued. The ministry later clarified the decision.
According to the quota system, 56 percent of posts are reserved for different quotas, including 30 percent for children of freedom fighters, 10 percent each for women and particular districts, 5 percent for small ethnic groups, and 1 percent for people with disabilities.
“Parliament is now in session,” said Md Ujjal Mia, one of the organisers of protests. “We want parliament to announce quota reforms in the currentsession. We will not stop our demonstration until reforms are announced.”
Around midnight on Sunday Awami League Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak went to the campus and told the protesters Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was aware of the situation. He instructed the protesters to discuss the situation with Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader at 11am on Monday.
The protesters had called for a nationwide boycott of classes on Monday. They continued their protests in front of the central library on Monday after a press conference.
The Bangladesh Chhatra League was seen preparing its own protests at Modhur Canteen.
The protester brought out a procession from the library and paraded through Shahbag, the TSC, Doyel Circle and Curzon Hall before heading towards the Central Shaheed Minar.
They then took positions in front of the Raju statue and the Shahbag intersection, affecting traffic movement.