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A Plea for Egalitarianism
Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Today's Bangladesh has made it to several headlines all over the world. The nation's youth strives to work towards a positive horizon, yet by some undeterminable force, is pulled back and we remain floating in negativity. The country is currently at its most delicate state. Beginning with the hartal, the chaos going on all over the different campus areas, the constant load shedding, traffic jams, overpopulation and water crisis, none of which seem to be coming to an end. Amidst all this, in Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, the vandalising of the college's property by members of the locality just seems to be an unnecessary addition to all the existing issues.
This medical college had been under the authority of three different parties, starting from BNP's last term in office, through the care-taker government and then Awami League. Its name has been changed with every shift in power, and no proper development has taken place under these three ruling authorities. It has been claimed several times that there has been small developments after the inauguration of the college in 2006, but massive changes, such as a proper academic building, morgue facilities, and emergency rooms have yet to be implemented. Additionally, the medical institute has legal rights over the land surrounding the college, which time and again has been exploited by others to their advantage. Thereby, it has become extremely difficult for the students to work with such limited options and constant intrusion by outsiders.
Students of the medical college protesting. Photo: Star
Of late, the senior students and interns of the medical college have filed several complaints regarding these issues they have been facing for quite a while now. They spoke with the administration authority on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and elaborately explained the problems they were facing, the main one being the lack of proper campus boundaries. One of the students explains, “There are three medical colleges in Bangladesh with proper structure, including a canteen, morgue, and a campus boundary. Every time we need to use the morgue we have to go to Dhaka Medical College. Even though legally, we have rights over the grounds surrounding our campus, others always seem to exploit us.”
These outsiders, who are usually taking up the space of the campus grounds, are mostly engaging in illegal activities like selling drugs or consuming them. At the same time, without obtaining proper permission from the government authority, they arrange sports tournaments in the campus grounds. At times, they also engage in eve teasing & harassing the young women on campus.
The students protested against these kinds of activities and this lead to a further problem and conflict of interest between the students and residents of Sher-e-Bangla Agriculture University staff quarters. The students were attacked by these residents and at the same time, one of the women's hostels was set on fire. They also vandalised at least 15 dormitory rooms, TV room and the canteen.
Damages caused after the conflict. Photo Courtesy: Murad Hossain
According to sources, the officials and employees of the hospital also observed a two-hour work abstention the next day, regarding this incident, and the emergency department was closed for about two hours, due to the absence of officials and employees. This has been a steady occurrence for the last few days, and no changes have been made so far.
According to a Daily Star report, Sub-Inspector Tanvir Hasan, of Sher-e-Banglanagar Police Station, said three cases were filed against 10-12 outsiders and a number of unidentified people, for the attack on students of the college and vandalism, on Tuesday.
In addition to all of this, the injured students filed another complaint against all those who have attacked them, when the college authorities came to visit them at the hospital. The principal and other respective members refused to help their cause and told them they would not provide any protection. A student of the medical college reported, “There were students who hid under the bed and were pulled out by the police. They were already in a bad condition, yet they were beaten up once again.”
A human chain was brought out recently by the officials and employees of the hospital protesting Tuesday night's incident, demanding apprehension and punishment of those who attacked the students. The students' only claim is that they should have a separate boundary, which would prove as a safeguard for all the students, particularly the women, since they are harassed by thugs of the locality.
In such hostile environments, where the country seems to have too much to handle already, the conditions of this college and the conflict of interest between the students and residents of surrounding areas, have made it worse. Under such circumstances, what exactly is the duty of the influential members of society? Will they come to the rescue of these students, the backbone of the nation? Or will they allow this injustice to continue?