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SUST impasse deepens

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 25th January, 2022 10:51:17 PM
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SUST impasse deepens


# Movement to continue
# VC still under siege
# 5 former students arrested 


The impasse created over the student movement on the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) campus in Sylhet has deepened as the students continued their hunger strike on Tuesday, demanding resignation of Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed.

An allegation is rife that a medical team of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital stopped providing treatment for the sick strikers.

The strikers alleged that the mobile banking numbers for providing financial assistance by the former and current students of SUST had not been operative since Monday afternoon.

They made the allegation at an emergency press briefing organised by the agitating students around 2.30am on Tuesday.

The strikers expressed deep concern about their movement and lives.

A spokesman for the protesters, citing doctors, said: “The health condition of all the students on the hunger strike is deteriorating. They are all suffering from various physical complications, including convulsions, low oxygen and sugar levels in the blood, and blood pressure. They are at risk of organ damage.”

He further said after analysing the medical reports of the hunger strikers, the senior doctors further said if the strike is prolonged, there is a possibility of going into a coma with heart failure at any moment.

However, the spokesman told journalists that a doctor at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital was volunteering to help the students on the hunger strike and that there were ambulances to transport critically ill patients.

Regarding the closure of financial transactions, he said, “The mobile banking numbers to which money was being sent for food and treatment for protesters since noon on January 24 are no longer working.”

Upon contacting the telecommunications companies concerned, they said they were asked to contact the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

“All of our mobile banking accounts have been closed. I think these are moves to thwart our movement. However, our movement cannot be foiled by such tricks,” said a protester.

Meanwhile, the protesting students restored the electricity connection to the VC’s official residence on Monday night.

But the students vowed to continue their strike until the resignation of SUST Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed.

The protesters on Tuesday continued to block entry to the SUST VC’s residence.

The demonstrating students stopped a delegation of teachers, including SUST Teachers' Association President Tulsi Kumar Das, on their way to the VC’s residence with food at around 1:15pm.

After a long discussion, the students agreed to send food. However, the food was delivered through the police. At this time the students open the food bag and check the contents.

However, the teachers’ delegation has been returned without visiting the VC.

While returning on Tuesday, SUST Teachers’ Association President Tulsi Kumar Das, said, “The vice-chancellor was very ill as he was under siege. So, we came to see him. We also brought some food. But the students did not allow us to go inside. However, the students sent the food through police.”

He added: “The students are also in crisis. So, we urge them to break the fast and call for a solution. However, the students are adamant in their demands.”

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Police has arrested five former students of SUST and handed them over to the Sylhet Police on charges of aiding the movement.
Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP) Commissioner Md Nisharul Arif confirmed the matter and said, “CID has informed us about the detentions. They are on their way to Sylhet. The next steps will be taken on their arrival,” he added.

“The five were detained on charges of providing financial aid to the protesting students of SUST, and the allegations against them will be investigated after the handover,” he added.

Meanwhile, a CID official said, wishing anonymity that sometimes other units of police seek help from CID. It was actually SMP’s drive. CID just helped them.

Earlier, law enforcers detained them from different parts of the capital for providing financial support for the protesting students.

In another development, Rajshahi University (RU) teachers have expressed solidarity with the ongoing student movement and protest against the police attack on SUST students.

At the same time, they called on the government to accept the demands of the students.

The sit-in was held at the martyred intellectual memorial intersection premises of the university around 11 am on Tuesday. RU students have been carrying out a series of programs demanding the same since January 20.

Background

Students have been protesting since January 13, to realise their 3-point demands, including resignation of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall provost Zafrin Ahmed after the provost allegedly misbehaved with a resident.

Three days after their three-point, including the resignation of a hall provost, were not met, the demonstrators confined the vice-chancellor at the MA Wazed Miah IICT building on Sunday. 
To free the VC, police charged batons, fired sound grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the students at 5:30 pm on Sunday. Students reacted by throwing brick chips at them.

Following this, the authorities declared the university shut on the night and asked the students to vacate the residential halls. But the students defied the order and launched their one-point movement demanding the VC’s resignation.