Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 42 | April 16, 2005 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   In Retrospect
   Human Rights
   Food For Thought
   Slice of Life
   Time Out
   Dhaka Diary
   New Flicks
   Book Review
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home



Madrasa Mayhem
And the JCD

Mustafa Zaman

A few months back, the young supremo of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was full of hubris. He was drumming up support in favour of the young party cadres. He emphasised that the members of BNP's student wing were contributing to the congenial atmosphere of education in Bangladesh. Nothing could be further from the truth. The way the Dhaka University halls and even TSC was brought into the BNP's aegis by enforcing both muscle and new regulations illustrates the grim reality.

At present, when most institutions remain in the tight grip of the student leaders belonging to the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), the student wing of the BNP, the recent clash between the student organisations belonging to the coalition partners brings to light another pressing issue. The coexistence of cadres of Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS: the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami) and that of the JCD. Enmity between the two has always existed, but its manifestation was never as brutal as in the last few months.

On May 3, Dhaka Alia Madrasa became a war zone to test each other's might. It has been declared closed for an indefinite period in the face of a sudden spurt of violence that ensued till the next day. While the students belonging to two major coalition partners -- BNP and JIB (Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh) -- fought each other to remain in control, the reports splashed all over the national media failed to pinpoint the real reason behind the vicious fighting. Some of them clearly stated the fact that it was JCD's bid to take control of affairs that backfired. They were beaten up on the first day prompting them to get even with the help of the police the next day.

The two-day long clash left more than 150, including 10 cops, injured. In apprehension of further clashes riot police and BDR personnel were deployed on campus. Additional forces have also been deployed at Dhaka University, BUET as well as Dhaka Medical College to curb the heat from spreading.

The aftermath of the violent clashes

Incidents of JCD and ICS are certainly on the rise. In fact, the amicable solution that their mother organisations carved out based on the sharing of power to counter Awami League while stoked by Islamic zeal, has always failed to brush on to the young followers of the BNP. JCD has been flexible in many occasions to taunt the staunchest of all rivals, the Awami League. But they have never compromised their machismo that they take pride in, not even to Islam or any other abstract principle for that matter. They have never ceased to gloat over the incidents of Bangladesh Chhatro League, the student wing of the AL, beating up ICS cadres. The occasional pairing of JCD and ICS always was an act of desperation on the part of JCD. It was, in principle, to topple the BCL hegemony.

With the diminishing threat of BCL, JCD and ICS have been thrown onto a whole new chessboard of power politics. They are bound to reorient there game plans. The parties they belong to may not even acknowledge the ground realities of domination and submission (by others of course), but for the student leaders it is a constant headache. It seems that they are unwilling to follow the example of the venerable leaders of their national big brothers of the four parties now in government.

There has been news of the national leaders taking it up with the student leaders, but reconciliation is not what the student cadres have in mind. Reports in several dailies reveal that the enmity between the workers of ICS and JCD has lately reached a smouldering height at the grass-root level. During the rule of the coalition government, there have been 25 bloody confrontations between ICS and JCD cadres.

Prior to the Alia Madrsa mayhem, There were other battles in Alia Madrasa as well as in Jagannath University and Dhaka Medical College. Even a month ago, at the Dhaka University campus, JCD men manhandled a few JCD cadres. This had no repercussion, as JCD men ruthlessly rule the campus.

Politics is a game of control, and when one either starts to lose one's grip or wants newer territory to establish hierarchy, fights are inevitable. Those who beg to differ, or want a solution to the clashes, have been making efforts to change the trend. There have been reports that on 16 November 2003, Secretary General of the BNP Mannan Bhuiyan arranged for the leaders of the two organisations to sit and to talk things over. But the clashes have continued.

After the clash at the Jagannath University last month, Mirza Abbas, the Minister for Housing and Public Works, arranged for a meeting at his own residence. The effort had little effect in reconciling the differences. One month later, at the Alia Madrasa, through the attacks and the counter attacks the hatred resurfaced. Both sides knew no mercy. It also brings to the fore the fact that political cadres have little to do with learning. Their acumen lies in cutting throats, gouging out eyes and many other sadistic solutions to the problem of having to confront an opposition, any kind of opposition for that matter.

The residential halls of Alia Madrasa now lie vacant. The students were sent packing in the morning of May 5th. For any political party the Madrasa holds importance because of its strategic placement. It is right next to the Dhaka Medical College and a little further away from BUET. It is from here that the Shibirites brought the Dhaka Medical College under their influence over the last few years.

The leaders of the ICS at the Madrasa told newspapers only that they would refrain from further actions against JCD. Interestingly, they also did not mention the name of JCD in their official charge against JCD cadres. The leaders said that they only want to press uprise JCD to ensure their hierarchy at the Alia Madrasa.

Azizul Jalil Helal, JCD President at the centre, confirmed to reporters that he was aware of the untoward incidents at the Alia Madrsa. "I directed all JCD cadres to work shoulder to shoulder with coalition partners." He was emphatic about the fact that the clashes were exceptional cases and added that "it will not effect the relation between the two student organisations." Even the Secretary General of ICS, Md Shafiqul Islam said, "The coalition will not be affected by this incident."

Two separate cases have been lodged with the Lalbagh Police Station. As usual, no one was rounded up in connection with the clashes. A leader of JCD, who likes to remain anonymous, reflects that although the national leaders stresses the importance of unity the members of JCD is not at all ready to give in. In this tough note the real mindset is revealed. However, for the two major coalition partners, reconciliation is the only way to keep Awami League at bay. As long as expediency rules, all clashes will go on while the national leaders keep their attention glued to the one and only thing, power. Meanwhile, education remains the biggest casualty of these 'untoward incidents' that may never cease to catch the general students by surprise.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005