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Dhaka-Sylhet long march Wednesday in support of SUST students  

Tuesday, 25 January 2022


Bibekban Nagarik Samaj, a platform of civil society members, has announced a long march programme on Wednesday from Dhaka to Sylhet to support the students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) who have been demanding it Vice-Chancellor's resignation.

The civil society members came up with the announcement through a press release on Tuesday, reports UNB.

According to the press release, "Many students are on fast unto death demanding the resignation of SUST VC and already many of them fell sick. They are now undergoing treatment at hospitals but none of them have broken their fast yet. Nobody on behalf of the government, Education Minister and the authorities concerned has come forward to break their fast and assure them of meeting their demand."

"In such a situation, the students are now in the juncture of life and death and it can't continue. We should stand beside them to express solidarity with them. If the VC does not step down then a long march programme from Dhaka to Sylhet will be launched from 10:30 am on Wednesday from the National Press Club of Dhaka," it said.

People from all walks of life including students, teachers, physicians, journalists, lawyers, businessmen, sportsmen and others were requested to join the long march to make the programme a success.

Prominent photographer Shahidul Alam, eminent writer and columnist Prof Rahnuma Ahmed, Advocate Jyotirmoy Barua , writer Rakhal Raha and Journalist Ehsan Mahmud, among others, signed the press release.

Meanwhile, a team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Tuesday arrested two former students of SUST on charge of sending money to the protesting students at the university.

Ashraf Ullah Taher, deputy commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP), said a CID team arrested two former students - Reza Nur Moin and Habibur Rahman - from the capital's Uttara area early Tuesday for sending money to the SUST students now on hunger strike demanding their VC's removal.

Earlier, the free medical support which was being provided by a team of Osmani Medical College Hospital unit Chhatra League for the protesting students of SUST has been withdrawn citing the Covid risk.

According to some students, the mobile phone numbers of some of the protesters -- those are on hunger strike -- have also been deactivated.

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 the varsity students.

Most of the 27 students on hunger strike are suffering from low blood pressure, low blood sugar levels and convulsions, and the sudden withdrawal of the medical support could pose serious risks to their health, said some students quoting a senior hospital doctor.

However, a doctor arrived at the protest site on his own later in the morning to offer medical support to the students.

The students also expressed their displeasure over the suspension of mobile phone services of a few protesters.

"When we contacted the customer care centres of our mobile operators, we were told to get in touch with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC)," said Ariful Islam, one of the protesting students.

Meanwhile, the protesting students restored the electricity connection to the V-C's official residence.

The students, however, denied the charges of disconnecting gas and water supplies to his residence and not allowing policemen, journalists and other people carrying food for the VC to go inside.

The students vowed to continue with their hunger strike till the VC "puts in his papers".

On Monday evening, Proctor Alamgir Kabir, an associate professor, first tried to persuade the protesting students to end their fast-unto-VC's resignation protest. The student, however, refused to break the fast and instead locked into an argument with the team for not supporting their protest.

Later the team tried to get into the VC's residence with food, beverages and medicines but it failed to go through the human chain surrounding the place.

The hunger strike was launched on January 19 by 24 students and later one of them had to leave due to family obligations. On January 22, 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.

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, a dorm for females, 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 Ahmed'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.