The violence let loose on the leaders of the quota reform movement at Dhaka University on Saturday is to be condemned. Happening only a day before the university prepared to celebrate its founding in 1921, the incident has shocked every citizen in the country. But shock must now give way to outrage in light of the fact that the violence has gone on and there seem to be no efforts in putting the leash on the perpetrators of the violence. This is not the Bangladesh Chhatra League we knew and were proud of in the 1950s and 1960s and even later. The glory which once was part of is not there anymore. What the BCL activists have been doing in these past few days puts us all to collective shame.
The point is not one of whether those behind the quota reform movement are right in expressing their view that changes need to be made in the matter of recruitment to government jobs. It is an issue which can be discussed separately and seriously. But to give rise to a situation where people asking for reforms in the quota system will not be allowed to voice their sentiments is a very bad manifestation of politics. Indeed, it is no politics at all but an absolute negation of it. Democracy entails, among other things, the right of dissent.
The innocent young people were not only attacked on the campus of Dhaka University but those who tried to save themselves because they were not able to take the brutality any more were searched out, dragged into the open and assaulted in unspeakable fashion. In a free country, where we profess to be living in a state of democracy, such violence and such behaviour leave huge dents in our souls.
The inactivity of the Dhaka University administration when all this violence was taking place has been shocking to say the least. The Vice Chancellor, who later came forth with a statement, was disappointing because of his inability to take firm action. None from the DU administration was around and only went to work when they were contacted by the media.
It is time for those in authority to put the leash on their student followers. Incidents of this kind tarnish the image of the government. And this being an election year, citizens expect the ruling party and its followers to do nothing that will damage them at the polling stations.