Chhatra League at it again
JUST two days after leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student front of the ruling Awami League, attacked a rally of the Communist Party of Bangladesh in Sylhet, leaving 30 people, including the CPB president injured, BCL members swooped on activists of the CPB-backed Bangladesh Chhatra Union at Kabi Nazrul Government College in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday, leaving at least four persons injured. According to a New Age report on Wednesday, the Chhatra Union activists were campaigning for the observance of Education Day when a band of Chhatra League people, led by the organisation’s college unit president, attacked them. According to another New Age report published on the same day, Chhatra League activists alongside the police beat up students of Rajshahi College, leaving at least 20 injured, when the latter were blocking the Rajshahi-Chapainawabganj highway in front of the main entrance of the college on Tuesday to press home their demand for, among others, easing session jam, setting up National University offices in every divisional headquarters and curbing corruption at the university. The attacks in question took place despite the fact that, other than officially saying ‘sorry’ for the incidents, the Chhatra League central committee dissolved its Sylhet committee soon after the Sylhet attack and that the police filed a criminal case against the perpetrators.
It may be pertinent to recall that Chhatra League men have attacked their political rivals on several occasions ever since the incumbents assumed power resulting in not only injury to dozens of people but even death to many. Besides, they have also engaged in various criminal offences such as admission trade, rent seeking, extortion, abduction, tender manipulation, sexual harassment of women and girls, etc in and outside different campuses across the country. In the face of growing criticism by people at large and the media in particular, the Chhatra League central committee did take some organisational actions on a number of occasions against unruly activists. However, as we commented only the other day, the ‘punished’ BCL leaders and activists continued to have the blessing of the organisation’s central leadership and even the ruling party. Most importantly, such incidents have seldom led to any legal action whereby the perpetrators were prosecuted and punished.
Meanwhile, key figures in the government and the ruling party, especially the prime minister, issued on repeated occasions tough warnings against Chhatra League wrongdoers. Here, too, the tough words have seldom been translated into effective actions, which may only have reinforced the sense of impunity among the troublemakers and emboldened them to perpetrate further excesses and atrocities with increased ferocity and frequency. The incumbents need to realise that people’s patience may have been stretched to the limit because of their sustained failure to call the BCL troublemakers to account. Hence, they need to rein them in by setting prohibitive precedents — both legal and organisational.
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