From the Editor-in-Chief: Quota issue and street violence

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, April 12th, 2018
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The demonstrations which have of late been organised by students to demand a reform of the quota system in government jobs call for a positive response from the powers that be. We are glad Roads and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has reassured the students’ community that the quota system will go through a scrutiny in response to the protests. That these protests cannot any more be ignored has been made clear by the countrywide programmes that the students have put into effect. The police action on the Dhaka-Aricha highway has left a number of students injured. Besides, the police action on Sunday evening at Shahbagh led to a situation which made conditions more volatile than they had so far been.

 

It is our hope that the students will not do anything that will place normal civic life in jeopardy by their action. The blockade on the Dhaka-Aricha highway as well as the protests causing a disruption in citizens’ movement in Dhaka was uncalled for and should not have happened. We say this because protests, being a democratic right, must therefore be conducted in a manner that will not hamper the movements of citizens who need to go about their normal work. In a country where not even political parties care much about the troubles they cause citizens when they organize their rallies by blocking off streets and roads, it is important that our students, being the conscious young people they are, will from here on make sure that nothing about their activities disturbs life for others.

 

While on the subject, we must also note our displeasure with the police over the physical attacks they have been making on the student protestors. Of course the police will take action to restore order and free roads and highways illegally seized by protestors, but citizens expect them to exercise a minimum of violence in handling such situations. It is not a pretty sight seeing the young with faces bloodied by police action. There are ways in which the police can be firm and can take back control from protestors, but severe violence is not one of them.

 

On the issue of quotas in government service, the authorities will not be helping the situation any by ignoring the protests. They ought to reconsider the system and devise the means by which an administrative system properly receptive to public aspirations can be put in place.

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