Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BCL At It Again

IT APPEARS that the Bangladesh Chhatra League, an associate body of the ruling Awami League, is out there to destroy every semblance of propriety, rule of law and every social more. Judging by the audacity, ferocity and frequency of their lawless behaviour, it feels as if the student body is a blood-thirsty wild beast unleashed on the educational institutions of the country, by none other than the government itself. On Monday, the BCL unit of Bangladesh Agricultural University attacked and injured 20 teachers. According to a report published in New Age on Tuesday, the teachers were injured as a result of a series of incidents triggered by the misbehaviour of some BCL activists with the teachers. The teachers brought out a silent procession which came under BCL attack. The teachers then detained four of the attackers and handed them to the police. In retaliation, the teachers were once again attacked at the Teachers Student Centre where they received most of the injuries, some whom were later admitted to the Mymensingh Medical College. The BCL activists vandalised some buildings and set four vehicles on fire.
There are indeed signs, as the teachers association president is quoted in the report as saying, that if the action against the attackers is not taken immediately, the university might close down. That would mean that the number of educational institutions closed down as a result of BCL-instigated violence in the past two and a half years should now number in hundreds. Ever since the Awami League-led government came to power, hundreds of small and large campuses have witnessed dangerous levels of BCL-induced violence. BCL activists have fought opposition student bodies for control of campuses, locked in intra-party feud over tender grabbing, and attacked ordinary students, teachers, educational institution staff, government officials, law enforcement officials and ordinary people on the streets causing damage to vehicles, property, as well as death and injury.

Yet, in the intervening period since having come to power, the only step taken to reign them in, by the ruling party, seems to be the prime minister’s decision to stand down as the BCL chairperson, the seriousness of which can easily be doubted since she this year not only attended the BCL convention but, according to media reports, also reprimanded senior members of her cabinet for having failed to do so. As for law enforcement, it is true that the law enforcers arrest activists from time to time, especially when incidents get out of hand as it did in the agriculture university, but the offenders are soon either released on bail or acquitted. The fear is that even if the government takes some disciplinary action at the agriculture university, it is not likely to last long.