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     Volume 7 Issue 7 | February 15, 2008 |

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A Raw Deal for Real Students

The curse of violence on campus has started all over again. Last week at least 40 students were injured when clashes broke out between activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir and Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) at a dormitory of Polytechnic Institute. The so-called 'activists' damaged over 10 classrooms and at least 50 dorm rooms and male students were asked to leave the hostels by 5:00 pm. The fighting erupted over a trivial event: a first year student who happened to be a Shibir supporter sat on a particular chair that was meant for second year students at the dining room, Chhatra League members got angry and beat him up. This of course led to repercussions from the other side, Shibir men beat up a Chhatra league leader, the Chhatra League goons retaliated and so on and so forth. After a short lull at night, the fighting broke out again in the morning, becoming more and more violent until the police came and controlled the situation.
The report in The Daily Star further said : Early in the morning around 400 workers of BCL gathered in front of Latif Hostel. They brought out procession on the campus, vandalised vehicles plying the Tongi Diversion Road. They also blockaded the road in front of the institute for over half an hour.
Brandishing knives, machetes, and hockey sticks, Shibir and BCL men chased and counter-chased each other for hours. In presence of law enforcers, they beat up their rivals and damaged their rooms.

Later after the institute was asked by the government to find out what happened it was revealed that the students who had been involved in the violence were actually outsiders. No surprise there.
This bizarre culture of members of student wings of various parties, whether it is Chhatra League, Chhatra Dal or Shibir, occupying halls, depriving honest, sincere and real students of a place to stay, has been a part of all the public educational institutes with residential facilities. The hall rights of course go to those 'students' who belong to the student wing of the party in power. Thus during BNP-Jamaat rule, it was the Chhatra Dal and Shibir gangs who had the privilege of taking over certain halls, driving out the rival party, in this case Chhatra League. When the AL was in power the same thing happened but in reverse, with the Chhatra Leaguers driving out their rivals. Mind you, this is inside the dormitories of educational institutes. Prestigious public universities such as DU, CU, RU etc. have all been plagued by such political thuggery through which many non-students (or undeserving ones) have enjoyed unbelievable benefits, all under the nose of the institute's authorities, all with the knowledge of the government in power.
This kind of gangsterism on campus had been kept on hold during the emergency and now it has started. Does this mean that during normal circumstances, we will have to again witness such ugly scenes of violence and the helplessness of ordinary students being displaced from their dormitories and having to bear with the consequences of delayed exams and disrupted classes? That would be a tragedy.

Housing Corruption
Corruption does not have a limit in our country, and this has become apparent in its rampant practise being unearthed every day. Most recently, an investigation of the National Housing Authority carried out by the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to Combat Corruption and Serious Crimes has revealed that fake plot allocations using phoney wills, case numbers, bank account numbers and award slips have been allotted even to two-year-olds. According to newspaper reports, irregularities were found in 904 plots with a present market value of Tk 400 crore. Some people reportedly got multiple allotments under different pseudonyms, while others encroached on even more land than they had been allotted unlawfully in the first place. The plot allocations, in Mohammadpur and Mirpur, were originally meant to be compensations for victimised citizens. The investigations also revealed that even some NHA employees were found to have been recruited illegally and after paying bribes to a former minister and cronies of the immediate past elected government. Several of those who paid bribes ended up not getting the jobs or their money back and are now seeking help from taskforce officials of the NCC. The NHA seems to be in a state of absolute chaos, and is perhaps not the only body to be so. Just like the traffic situation, only in Bangladesh can an organisation function, or dysfunction, amidst so much corruption and anarchy.

Paying a High Price
Like every year, students in the government run schools are fighting to get the prescribed textbooks in the New Year. This year, however, the issue has taken a slight turn from the usual crisis of disappearing textbooks. Even though the primary text books are around, they are being sold at very high prices.
A large number of books, which are to be distributed for free at schools, are now being bought at a higher price since there is a lack of coordination between the concerned government bodies. According to many parents and schoolteachers, the middle of the year is fast approaching and if they don't buy the books now, the students will have to go without books for the rest of the year.
The concerned organisations are now playing the blame game. The leaders of the Bangladesh Publishers and Booksellers Association claim that the National Currirulam and Textbook Board (NCTB) did not take any measures to print additional textbooks even though the board was warned of this crisis.
The beginning of every year marks the beginning of this textbook crisis and the blame game between the organisations. The young students end up being the actual sufferers. Many of these children miss out on a lot since academic activities in all the government run schools begin on January 1 of every year.

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