At the Dhaka University, Bangladesh Chhatra League first added fuel to the fire and then tried to douse it.
Leaders and activists of BCL, who have twice foiled the demonstration of students against the university's affiliation with seven colleges on the campus, had actually initiated the very movement.
Four of the five administrators of Dhaka Bishwabidyalay Paribar (Dhaka University Family), a Facebook group that launched the campaign against the affiliation, are leaders of different units of the pro-Awami League student body in the university.
They are: Motakabbir Khan Probas, vice-president of DU BCL; Zihadul Islam Nirob and SM Rakib, vice-president and organising secretary of Fazlul Haq Hall BCL; and Sadman Sakil, publication affairs secretary of political science department BCL, shows the FB group. Several BCL sources and students have confirmed their identities.
The fifth administrator, Nur Hossain, appears to have no political affiliation.
In the first week of this month, students from various departments started uploading posts in the group, expressing anger over the affiliation. They claimed that many from those seven colleges were damaging the university's reputation as they were "committing crimes after introducing themselves as DU students".
On January 7, Moshiur Rahman Sadik, a student of the university's software engineering department, created an event in the group, calling for demonstration near the TSC on January 11 for scrapping the affiliation.
Three days later, BCL leader Probas in a post in the group said, "DU itself is in trouble. DU does not have the ability to look after seven colleges. Take back the seven colleges under the National University."
He also urged the group members to share news regarding the anti-affiliation protests on their Facebook timelines, saying, "Let the countrymen know how unhappy the DU students are with the affiliation".
On January 11, several hundred students, including BCL activists, demonstrated on the campus as planned. Later, the protestors announced that they would boycott classes on January 14 and besiege the vice-chancellor's office the next day to press home their demand.
Sensing more trouble, the university authorities reportedly held a meeting with some top BCL leaders the same day and asked them to retreat. The Chhatra League leaders agreed to do that, alleged one of the coordinators of the demonstrators, wishing not to be named.
The BCL leaders then told the coordinators of the movement to stop the agitation right away, assuring them that the VC, Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, would take initiatives to solve the crisis.
The coordinators, however, did not agree and the protest continued.
At 1:15am on January 15, Probas, who seemed to have been unaware of the developments, in another post uploaded in the group said, "As the seven colleges have been affiliated, some of their students were trying to misuse the logo of Dhaka University for their own means."
The next day, the protesters staged a sit-in in front of the VC's office. The VC reportedly called some BCL leaders to control the crowd without even talking to the demonstrators, alleged the coordinator.
About half an hour later, around 300 BCL activists, led by its top leaders, appeared there and started to hurl abuses at the female demonstrators. They also asked the male students to leave immediately.
The demo was foiled.
The Chhatra League men also took Sadik, one of the coordinators, inside the VC's office and roughed him up there.
The VC denied calling in the Chhatra League men.
Surprisingly, all posts made on the Facebook group were deleted the same night and the administrators, who run the group, were seen coming up with posts saying that the VC gave "clear solution" to the crisis.
They actually referred to a press release issued a few days ago by the university administration explaining how all the activities of those colleges would be run. The statement said the college authorities would issue identity cards to their students and the students would get all the facilities like transportation or accommodation services from their respective colleges like the way they used to get before affiliation.
On January 23, the protestors were demonstrating in front of the VC's office to press home a four-point demand, including expulsion of some BCL leaders for “harassing” the female students. All of a sudden, hundreds of Chhatra League activists, led by its top leaders, attacked the protestors, leaving 50 students and two journalists injured. The protesters were dispersed.
BCL General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain and its DU unit President Abid Al Hasan led the attack to “rescue” the VC, who was confined to his office for around an hour at the Registrar Building, demonstrators said.
Female BCL activists were seen beating up female protesters in different rooms.
However, the female BCL leaders claimed that the protestors assaulted them and that they took treatment at the DU medical centre. They also posted photos of “taking treatment” on Facebook and demanded punishment of those “who attacked them and the VC”.
In fact, there was no attack on the VC, although the protestors had a long, heated argument with him over their demands.
Contacted last night, Motaher Hossain Prince, general secretary of DU BCL, said, "Some issues regarding DU students had surfaced because of the affiliation and we had extended our support to them.
"But the general students believe those issues were resolved when the authorities issued the press release [on January 21] and they stopped the agitation accordingly."
On several occasions, BCL leaders branded the protesters as "outsiders".
'DEMO DRAMA BY BCL'
As part of BCL demonstrations for punishment to those who “attacked” the VC and “vandalised” university properties during the January 23 protest, a human chain was organised under the banner of “Sachetan Shadharan Shikkharthibrinda” in TSC area on January 25.
Some students were seen holding banners of different TSC-based socio-cultural organisations at the human chain.
Interestingly, none from those bodies took part in the protest programme, said members of those organisations.
In fact, the so-called demonstrators were freshers from different university dormitories. They were allegedly forced to take part in the human chain, said some of the students, strictly on condition of anonymity.
For example, the Dhaka University Photographic Society (DUPS) has been inactive since its top leaders, including the president and the general secretary, were expelled for financial irregularities on November 6 last year, said Zahid Hossain Badhon, one of the executive members of its committee.
Surprisingly, a number of youths in the human chain were holding the banner of the organisation. None of them were its members.
The case was similar with Dhaka University Cultural Society and Dhaka University Band Society, said top leaders of the organisations, wishing not to be named.
Mustafa Amir Foysol, president of Dhaka University Model UN Association (DUMUNA), claimed that he also had no clue about the use of the banner of the organisation in the human chain.
According to the campus sources, the human chain was backed by the BCL unit of DU with the help of another pro-government organisation Slogan '71. Most of the students holding banners of different organisations were BCL activists.
On February 17 last year, Dhaka College, Eden Mohila College, Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Mohila College, Mirpur Government Bangla College and Government Titumir College were affiliated with Dhaka University apparently to ease the "pressure" on National University.