Dipu Moni questions U-turn by Shahjalal University protestors to sit with her

A seemingly perplexed education minister has asked journalists to find out if the protesting students of the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology acted on orders and backtracked on their decision to sit for talks.

A group of teachers from the university in Sylhet met Dipu Moni at her home in Dhaka on Saturday amid a hunger strike by the students demanding resignation of Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed.

The meeting ended without a definitive decision and she said the teachers will go back to the campus and discuss the situation on the whole.

The minister had called on the students to talk through their issues with her on Friday. The students agreed initially but later backed off.

“They were quite keen to talk anywhere, anytime. They said they wanted to talk this evening [Friday], not tomorrow [Saturday].

“Why did they change their minds? Please check if they did it under influence or for someone,” she told the reporters.

Dipu Moni said she would not travel to Sylhet to talk to the students for family reasons, but was ready to send representatives.

She turned down the students’ proposal for virtual talks as she believed such talks may not bring good results.

The teachers want this volatile situation to be over, she said. “We want our students to be in good health and return to a conducive academic environment instead of instability.”

bdnews24.com reached several teachers who attended the meeting, but they declined to comment.

Students had begun protests to demand the resignation of Zafrin Ahmed Liza, provost of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall, after she had allegedly ‘misbehaved’ with students.

Though she was eventually removed, students have continued their campaign to press for the resignation of VC Farid Uddin after police used batons, tear shells and stun grenades to break up a protest.

Students continue their hunger strike for the third day on Friday, Jan 21, 2022, demanding the resignation of Farid Uddin Ahmed, vice chancellor of the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.

The protests entered their tenth day on Saturday.

Police charged 300 unnamed students in a case on Wednesday over the protesters clashed with law enforcers.

On Wednesday, 24 students launched a hunger strike, demanding among others withdrawal of the charges against the protesters. More than half of them were hospitalised after falling sick, but they continued with the strike.

Dipu Moni also questioned the shift in the protesters’ demand. “We need to discuss whether their new demand [VC’s resignation] is logical.

“He [VC ] has performed his duty successfully for the past four years. So he was appointed for a second term. We need to discuss whether he made a mistake in the last seven days. We'll be able to find a solution if we talk.”