A good number of shroud-wearing students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUSTU) brought out a silent procession on the campus in Sylhet on Saturday to meet their demand for the resignation of the vice-chancellor of the university.
More than 300 students took part in the protest procession with symbolic corpses.
At that time, one of the students said, “Twenty-three of our students are now on the verge of death. They have been on a hunger strike for 72 hours. Many are in a critical condition. But, they have not broken the fast yet. Rather they are steadfast in their position.”
The student further said, “Now maybe we have taken a symbolic position, but if it continues like this, maybe one of us really has to wear a shroud. We want to make it clear through this silent procession that they are not alone. We are also willing to die.”
In the silent procession, carrying the corpses on their shoulders, the students marched around Chetna Ekattar and again took position in Golchattar area. Meanwhile, 16 SUST students on a hunger strike have been admitted to hospital. All the students have fallen sick during the ongoing fast.
Last Wednesday, a total of 24 students started the fast-unto-death strike, demanding resignation of the VC. One protester left for his home as his father suffered from stroke. But the rest of the students are still on hunger strike.
Nazmul Hasan, a member of the medical team and general secretary of MAG Osmani Medical College Chhatra League, said that a total of 16 students have been taken to the hospital so far. All 23 students are not taking any kind of food or drink. They are not even willing to eat saline in their mouths. The condition of three of them is critical and the condition of one student named Nishat is very bad.
After the meeting, Dipu Moni told journalists said everything is possible to resolve any issue through discussions.
“There is no alternative to discussion in resolving any problems,” she said, asking the students to sit for talks.
“Door is open for talks. I hope the students can sit for the talks by withdrawing their movement or continuing it,” she said.
Mentioning the progress of SUST in different areas, including research works, the education minister smelt a rat into such movement enforced by the students.
“The movement started with a small issue. But it has been diverted into another demand,” she said.
The University Grants Commission Chairman Professor Kazi Shahidullah, its three members and SUST Teachers Association president Tulsi Kumar Das and four others teachers also attended the meeting at the minister’s residence in Dhaka.
The delegation includes SUST teachers association’s president Tulsi Kumar Das, general secretary Mohammad Muhibul Alam, physical sciences faculty dean Rashed Talukdar, applied sciences faculty dean Ariful Islam and business administration faculty dean Khairul Islam.
SUST Teachers’ Association President Tulsi Kumar Das said, “We have come to speak in response to the call of the education minister to find a solution to the ongoing stalemate on the campus.”
Earlier, the education minister on Friday talked to the agitating students in an effort to resolve the issue. She talked to the students over phone around 3.10pm. She said that she wants a peaceful solution to the issue as soon as possible and is willing to discuss students directly if they want.
Students have been protesting since January 13 to realise their three-point demand, including resignation of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall provost Zafrin Ahmed, after the provost allegedly misbehaved with a resident.
Three days after their three-point demands, 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.
Students in Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Khulna University and Barishal University demonstrated in protest against the attacks on SUST students.