Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader informs us that the Prime Minister has warned the Chhatra League against committing excesses over the quota reforms issue. We welcome the minister’s statement, though we must say that it was not merely excesses that have been committed by the activists of the ruling party’s student front. What has been happening in recent weeks is plain outrage committed not only against the supporters of the quota reforms movement but also against academics who have sometimes tried to step in to prevent BCL activists from indiscriminately assaulting the students who have been demanding reforms in the quota system.
We agree that it is all right for those who commit excesses to be pulled up, as has reportedly been done by the Prime Minister in the matter of the Chhatra League. But given the fact that what has been happening lately is something more than excesses, it is important that the authorities take strict action. And such action must be taken for a couple of very clear reasons. In the first place, the BCL activists have committed bad acts through severely beating up the quota reformists, going to the extent of hitting people with axes and leaving them badly maimed. In the second place, such behaviour is unfortunately but predictably proving costly for the ruling party, especially at a time when the country happens to be looking forward to general elections later this year. The Awami League needs to muster all the support it can get as it prepares for a fresh term in office. The party should not allow its followers in any of its affiliated organizations to squander the public support it has had so far.
We believe that for the government, a simple reprimand to its over-enthusiastic followers over these recent incidents should not be the end of the matter. By taking the law in their own hands the student followers of the Awami League did not do themselves or their parent organization any good. The BCL has always had a glorious history behind it, but that history was badly undermined by the way the present generation of Chhatra League activists has behaved. Their assaults on their fellow students as well as their impertinent behaviour with teachers of Dhaka University are things one cannot be proud of. We expect better from them.