Eminent writer and former professor of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) Md Zafar Iqbal has expressed annoyance over the role of the university teachers during the police attack on protesting students.
"It’s very discouraging when police attacked the students, the teachers didn’t come forward…they should’ve come forward to save them. Not a single teacher did it. There’s no reason for a teacher to be so spineless," Zafar Iqbal said.
He said this while talking to reporters after the students broke their hunger on Wednesday.
Addressing the protesting students, he said, "The young generation of Bangladesh is behind you. All people are behind you. Get well soon. Set an example. Other universities in Bangladesh will learn from the example."
Regarding the demand for removal of VC Farid Uddin, he said, "The government has said they’ll accept the demands and the demands include VC’s removal."
But the government also has its own technical issues, political issues, for which they may follow a process, he said, adding the government removed the VC of Gopalganj in one way and removed another VC in another way.
"So it’s their business. My primary concern was whether I could get the students out of the hunger strike."
In response to a question whether outsiders had been fueling the movement, Zafar Iqbal said, "I have seen they’re ordinary students. There’s no other ambition in them. Police attacked them so ruthlessly. So, there’s resentment in their minds. That’s why they’re carrying out this movement. Their demand is 100% logical."
Zafar Iqbal said, "When I retired three years ago, I wrote a letter to the VC. In the letter, I said a lot of things. I wrote there clearly that if you don’t do this, the anger that the students have now will burst into protests. My words have come true."
Around 10.20am on Wednesday, the students broke their fast after former SUST Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal gave them water to drink.
The eminent writer and his wife Yasmeen Huq, also a former SUST teacher, came to the university in Sylhet from Dhaka around 4am and met the protesting students.
The students embarked on fast-unto-death on the university campus on January 19, demanding the resignation of SUST Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed over police crackdown on their fellows.
Three days later, three more students joined their fellows in the hunger strike.
The strike was launched after police swooped on the protesting students, charging batons and firing sound grenades and shotgun bullets. On the other hand, police filed a case against 300 unnamed protesting students.
The alleged attack was carried out to free the VC from confinement in the university’s IICT building, and it had left 40 people hurt, including teachers, students and cops.
Zafrin Ahmed, a provost of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall was at the centre of the initial unrest as she allegedly misbehaved with some students on January 13 when they met her with some complaints.
She later resigned from her post, citing health issues.
Provost Zafrin's removal was one of the initial demands of the students protesting on the campus. But it has now spread to the general students as well.