Ashraf’s Column

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another ugly face of student politics

I felt thunderstruck with shock and sorrow when I went through the reports published in our daily newspapers on March 12 and 13, 2010 on what is currently going on in the name of student politics in the residential hostels of Eden College and Badrunnessa College in Dhaka. These two are among the most leading educational institutions for our female students. For decades we have been sending our daughters to these institutions to pursue higher education in a well protected and safe environment. Poor parents from villages need not have to worry about their daughters’ education, safety and welfare after they sent their daughters, usually in their late teens, to these girls’ colleges. Now it is reported in the newspapers that our daughters there are being sexually exploited by the female leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) units of these two colleges. Girls from the hostels are being forced by the “Bara Apas” (elder sisters) to go out of the hostels to render sexual service to senior male students of BCL, political leaders, ministers and businessmen. Those girls who refuse to oblige them are mercilessly beaten up, or are branded as supporters of Jamat-Shibir and thrown out of the hostel. In return the “Bara Apas” get political, financial and other worldly benefits from the persons so entertained. My head hung in shame when I read those reports. All this is happening when the nation has a female prime minister at the helm. If I remember correctly our present prime minister herself was a student of one of these colleges.

I write this letter to urge upon the honorable prime minister not to let this matter go without any action as the case of “centurian Manik” of Jahangirnagar University went during her party’s rule from 1996 to 2001. The prime minister may please order for a judicial inquiry into the allegations raised in the newspaper reports, and then ruthlessly deal with the concerned guilty female student leaders of Eden Collge and Badrunnessa College, their patrons in the political parties and BCL Central Committee. The principals of the said colleges and other officials including the hostel superintendents have disgracefully failed to perform their official and sacred duties. They must also be taken to task for their failure to protect our daughters.
I would also like to draw the attention of our intellectuals, members of the civil society, and leaders of the human rights organizations and others who are working for the rights of the women, irrespective of their party affiliations, to come out openly and forcefully with demands to save our daughters’ dignity and honor.

In the past on many occasions our honorable Supreme Court took suo moto actions in public interest when the court found the government was not doing its duties to the people. In this particular case may we expect the Supreme Court to take necessary legal actions to protect the dignity and honor of our girls, if it finds that the government is not taking any or sufficient action.
So far we have been hearing about many crimes like extortion, terrorism, violence, rioting, hijacking, mugging etc being committed by our superannuated student leaders and their followers. Now the newspapers have done a yeomen’s job by bringing to light another ugly facet of our student politics. Our major political parties shall be failing in their obligation to the people if they do not still get rid of the so called student leaders. It is not really understood why a decent political party has to maintain bunches of goons in the name of student leaders, as they are doing it now. In an election people, and not these goons, vote for them. Long gone are those days when student leaders could influence the ordinary voters. The situation is totally different now. People are now afraid of student leaders.

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