Private varsity students have set the standard; public varsity students must think16 September 2015 Editorial Desk
Private university students in their movement demanding the withdrawal of 7.5 percent VAT on their tuition fees have set the example of a peaceful and orderly protest breaking the hitherto firmly held belief that students movement by nature is violent and dominated by unruly thugs. They held the peaceful demos and forced the government to withdraw the VAT on their tuition fees by sheer unity of their purpose.
Bangladesh witnessed bloody student movements in the past by student bodies affiliated with the political
parties. As a matter of tactics they had always resorted to a reign of terror and vandalized transports breaking window shields or setting them on fire to create a terrorizing environment to make their case. People would run away from their path for safety.
The government supported student bodies would show their strength ignoring the law enforcers and working together with them while the opposition backed student groups would fail to take to the streets facing police action and the ruling party thugs.
But the private varsity students handled their protest this time and possible for the first time together at all university level, in the streets which neither turned violent nor allowed outsiders to disrupt their gathering despite intervention at many city points by ruling party men.
They did it remaining united and peaceful and with the necessary watchfulness so that their movement essentially remains outside party politics focused on achieving the withdrawal of VAT on their tuition fees.
Indeed private varsity students showed that they were united on their own identity as students, not belonging to any political party. It earned them respect and also the unequivocal public support.
The Awami League government had levied the VAT but many party men supported the students' demand as they showed they had no political agenda, other than their prime academic grievance. The opposition also kept away from politicizing the matter other than giving formal support.
Even a move by the government to sabotage the movement by creating a splinter group failed who issued a call from a press conference to wind up the protest suggesting that varsity owners would pay the VAT, students won't. The NBR was used to mislead the students. All these tricks did not work.
Unlike other students' movement, private varsity students did not vandalize transports nor set them on fire, they had rather helped the stranded passengers of transport vehicles to move out to their destinations.
Only sensible thing the government did in dealing with the movement was that it did not apply police force. That also helped the students to keep them cool.
Needless to say, students of public universities with their strong participation to major political party activities as members of their front organizations, have lost their good name and respect and are rather treated as mustans or musclemen of political parties.
The leadership of the private university students has shown that although the public university students' leaders have sold out their own identity to become party cadres and toll collectors and often using firearms in factional fights, they strictly remained serious students refusing to be any political party's musclemen to destroy their own decent future.
We must wish that public varsity students need to rediscover their glorious identity to build themselves as future brilliant leaders to take forward the nation and not be lackeys of unworthy party politics. The students of private varsities have shown the way; let public varsity students rethink.