Time to check campus violence

Time to check campus violence
The Statesman, India
6 September 2007

Many Dhaka University teachers and students were manhandled and detained for staging a peaceful protest. They were questioning the presence of an army camp at the Central stadium of the university for which they were brutally beaten up by army and police forces and several of them were detained.

Civil rights organisations in the world have strongly condemned the attack on the university faculty and students. Asha Parivar, an international network of individuals who are committed to establishing a just and humane social order free from all discriminations, has spoken out against the incident.

“The quality of education and the prevalence of campus violence in Bangladesh, particularly in institutions of higher education, and their unavoidable interaction, are some of the major concerns in the country’s educational sector,” reported a Dhaka University Press publication **Quality of Education and Campus Violence** in 2000. Despite these reports, the grim scene at the university hasn’t changed much over the past years.

Campus violence is not just limited to Bangladesh. In India too, especially northern state universities are ridden with campus violence. “Instead of enhancing the standards of these seats of learning, the faculty members have to bother about how to just keep the normal affairs going” said Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey, who is also the convener of India’s largest network of people’s movements - NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements).

Not only did the army and police manhandle the protesting Dhaka University students and teachers, but also five professors, including the general secretary of the Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, Dr Anwar Hossein, who is also the Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Molecular Sciences, were detained by the military backed interim government of Bangladesh under the emergency rules.

The students were staging a peaceful protest against the presence of army camp at the Central stadium of the university when army and police mercilessly started beating them up in their attempt to check the growing resistance from students and faculty members.

Dr Hossein had also led a movement earlier against the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami regime whose police had molested a female student of the same university. At midnight, the police raided the ladies’ dormitory and many of the protesting students were taken into custody. This was on the 28th of July 2002. There has not been any significant decrease in violence and sexual harassment on campuses; in fact, the violence has become increasingly raucous.

Dr Sandeep Pandey adds: “Sadly, violence in institutions of education has become a normal affair. The outbreak of violence and lawlessness on campuses of educational institutions is regrettable. Today’s need is reorientation of the educational structure. Education should be made vocational and humane.”

Activists of NAPM and Asha Parivar (www.ashaparivar.org) have condemned the detention of students and five professors and demanded their immediate and unconditional release from the state’s custody. KM Sabir, senior advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, has supported the struggle not only to release the detained professors and students, but also to restore a more conducive environment on the campus.

Online at: http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=4&theme=&usrsess=1&id=168890

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