The protesting students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) continued fast-unto-death on Thursday, demanding resignation of Vice-Chancellor FaridUddin Ahmed.
Some 24 agitating students began the fast in front of the VC’s residence around 3:00pm on Wednesday, after the VC refused to resign by 12 noon, the deadline set by the protesting students.
Five students who fell ill at 4:00pm on Thursday were seen giving saline in front of the VC’s residence. But the agitating students vowed not to break their fast until the VC steps down.
JahidulHasanApurba, who started fast-unto-death, said,“We would continue the hunger strike until the demands are met. Nothing will deter us.” Around a hundred teachers, including Treasurer Prof Anwarul Islam and Teachers Association President Prof Tulshi Kumar Das, came to the students around 8:45pm on Wednesday and requested them to break their fast.
The protesting students refused to talk until the teachers joined their call for the VC’s resignation.
Prof Anwarul Islamsaid, “The students didn’t respond to our request.They gave us some conditions and asked us whether we support their ongoing movement.”
“We just came to the students to give some time to identify those involved in the incident. But the students were adamant about their demand, saying that the attack was carried out at the VC’s behest. We also told them that we want a high-profile probe committee to look into the incident but the students were inconvincible,” he said.
Around 12:00 noon on Thursday, a group of teachers led by University Treasurer Prof Anwarul Islam came in front of the Vice Chancellor’s residence.
At the time, they wanted to urge the students present there to resolve the issue through discussion, but the students refused to sit down to discuss any proposal if they did not agree to the demand -- the resignation of the vice-chancellor. The teachers left the place after about 30 minutes.
On that time, the students complained to the teachers that some teachers were threatening them over the phone.
Later, while talking to reporters, Prof Anwarul Islam said, “Teachers of all departments are talking to the students over the phone to inquire about them. In the meantime, if any of the teachers have told them something like this, we will take action [if the students tell us specifically].”
Asked who ordered the police action, he said, “On that day, the vice-chancellor, the Student Welfare Adviser, the proctor, anyone or I could have given the order. So even if I say I did not order, it is not credible. The matter will come out through investigation.”
He also said, “Police action was not desirable on the campus.”
Students have been protesting since Thursday, calling for the provost of Begum SirajunnesaChowdhury Hall to resign 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 WazedMiah IICT building on Sunday.
To free the VC, police charged batons, fired sound grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the students at 5:30pm on Sunday. Students reacted by throwing brick chips at them.
At least 30 students were critically injured along with at least 10 police personnel and two teachers.
After the incident on Sunday, an emergency syndicate meeting was held on the campus. Later, the authorities closed down SUST for an indefinite period. All classes and examinations of the university will be suspended until further notice. Residential students were ordered to vacate halls within 12:00 noon Monday.
On Monday night, police filed a case against 200-300 unnamed students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) on charges of obstructing police from performing their duties and attacking them.
Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police MdAjbahar Ali Sheikh said, “The case is just a formality as police were attacked and firearms were used to control the situation. No students will be harassed and this was not done to threaten them.”