After the brutal killing of a BUET student, the issue hotly debated countrywide is whether student politics should be permitted at public universities. Only the government universities run with public money have student fronts of some political parties. Student politics as an extension of party politics is at the root of the crisis. Student politics as a separate intellectual process is welcome. What is wrong is that the student wing of a political party, be it Awami League or BNP, has no basis in politics of its own. Criminalisation in the name of politics is abhorrent.
It is now known after the hateful killing of Abrar that in BUET some fifty torture cells exist. Torture cells likewise also exist in other public universities for executing different kinds of criminal activities. Such crimes are followed by easy money. For non-involvement of the government, the private universities do not have the problem of captive student politics.
The student organisations like the student wings of major political parties exist as the muscle power of Awami League or BNP at universities and do as they are asked to do. There is no scope for political thinking or political analysis.
The problem is there is no knowledge-based politics in our party politics other than how to remain in power and get rich. This is the politics that depends on force and intimidation.
The muscle power of captive politics cannot be called student politics. In our present situation the university students are needed to be used as the power of terrorism of the political parties to spread fear among the university students thinking differently.
An atmosphere of tolerance is congenial for education. In the captive student politics there is no tolerance, debate and discussion for organising good governance which comprises the very essence of politics. Neither Awami League nor BNP cares to know what democracy means for complying with the democratic Constitution and respecting the rights of individuals guaranteed under the Constitution. Both of these parties are played into the hands of others. We cannot be sure who runs the government. They have remained active to disavow democratic tolerance and constitutional politics. Politics has ceased to be an intellectual matter for national well-being. The politics of the government is now called development politics and not the people's politics.
As political wings of the principal parties, the students survive as force in exchange for police protection offered them for their misdeeds. In our party politics there is no politics for free election, only hunger for power. So, dangerous conflict and confrontation go by the name of politics. Students are used to aggravate such conflicts and confrontation.
Awami League has abandoned its democratic politics. It is now a revolutionary party believing in politics of no election and no Constitution and no rights of the people. BNP also is not a democratic party to be anxious to practice democracy. Both the parties want to grab power and continue in power. So our party politics is cruelty of force against force. The parties have no political ideals to ponder and discuss, and where no room for compromises is to be found. But making compromises is the art of politics. There cannot be freedom of speech either. Such politics finds conspiracy to unseat the government everywhere.
The members of the Chhatra League have digressed from the values of education to be engaged in activities heartless and unkind. Human qualities as university students are much in want in them. Many of them are victims of drugs. It is a sorry state for us to see the university students encouraged by their party politics to be intolerant and violent. This is opposed to education for making them civilised and creative.
The hope that our university students as party activists shall take over future political leadership on the basis of their political knowledge and ability is a gigantic deception. Our present party politics is not about the need of education for responsible leadership.
After activities of Chhatra League at BUET came to light, there is nothing to disagree that it was no secret to university authority that heartless crimes are being committed day by day inside the dormitory.
The Vice-Chancellors and teachers of all public universities are also party activists for political favour. The teachers are divided as party activists of different political parties. All these activities cannot be helpful for academic atmosphere at the seats of higher learning for others to get proper education.
How irresponsible one can be when Vice-Chancellor of BUET does not know what was his fault in the savage killing of one of his students in the university dormitory. He also did not know anything about 50 torture cells run by his students in various residential halls. He, Provosts or Proctors cannot deny their complicity in crimes happening at the university.
To be inhuman criminals and terrorists, our children are not sent to universities. University education is not needed to be remorseless and cruel 'killers and torturers'. But it makes us hopeless when teachers including Provosts and Vice-Chancellors give up their sense of duties and sell their conscience to be party activists. Who will take care of our children for their good education and safety if not the university teachers?
The blood cuddling stories are coming out from the confessions of some of the arrested men in connection with the murder of student Abrar.
The torture cells were also maintained by the members of another wing of Awami League i.e. Jubo League under cover of casino business involving hundreds of crore taka. They were given government contracts for making easy money.
After the exposure of the criminal activities under the banner of student politics nobody in his senses can say that such activities are politics and we need political leaders trained in such party politics.
We have a former Chief Justice who is too anxious to show support for the Awami League government. He is concerned that if the student politics is prohibited at the universities, then it will be detrimental to building future political leadership.
It is a matter of public knowledge that BUET student Abrar Fahad was beaten to death in the university hall for his critical view on the recently concluded agreements with India. The Chhatra League being government's student front, will not be wrong to infer it as part of government's politics to punish Abrar.
Party politics has dehumanised the students. They are in captivity for the politics of their elders. I do not mean to say by this that for every crime an order has to come from political party high ups.
In the background of the ongoing students' movement many angry speeches are forthcoming. Direct statements are made challenging the legitimacy of the government and asking it to go away for not being elected. This is not a change for freedom of speech. The government is waiting in the hope that the fire and fury of the student movement will fade way.
In Pakistan days student politics was not captive in the hands of political parties. They maintained their autonomy of not being blind activists of any political party. But such support was not obtainable at the cost of education and good behaviour. Most of them were brilliant students. They were committed to national politics for protecting national interest, for which general public respected them. Political leaders listened to their arguments in policy matters.
We must save university education for intellectual excellence. It is our obligation as teachers and guardians to protect our children from the captivity of the politics of criminalisation. We must do what we can.
It is to be insisted that the universities must not be places for politicians to peddle brutal and corrupt politics unfit for university students. We must preserve universities for higher education to produce better and more qualified people for better future for the students and society.
We cannot allow our university students to be murderers or be murdered.
(Mainul Hosein is the Chairman, Editorial Board, The New Nation)