‘Graft’ in mega project at JU VC calls for discussion
Emon Mahmud, JU: The Jahangirnagar University faced over half a month of protests as anger grew over allegations of VC’s corruption.
Meanwhile, the movement gained civil society support. Transparency International Bangladesh in a press statement expressed solidarity with the student movement, and urged university authorities to probe into the ‘irregularities’ centering its development work.
Protestors said, “Vice-chancellor Prof Farzana is playing ‘hide and seek’ with us as she has lost her morality. She is now ‘ineligible’ on her post as she has direct involvement in the financial scandal’.
Under the banner of ‘Jahangirnagar against corruption’, over 70 teachers and students formed a human chain with black flag on the social science faculty premises around 1 pm yesterday while admission tests for the first year honours course under mathematical and physical sciences faculty of JU was going on. Earlier, Students and teachers besieged the two administrative buildings for immediate removal of the VC.
The protesters showed ‘black flag’ to the JU VC Prof Islam and declared her a ‘persona non grata’ at the exam halls during admission test for her alleged involvement in corruption. They also asked the VC to resign from her post ‘respectfully’ before October 1.
Addressing the rally at the Shaheed Minar premises, prof Raihan Rhyne of Philosophy Department said, ‘want judicial inquiry into the reported corruption in mega projects, review of building construction plans and relocation of construction of three proposed halls’.
He also vowed to go on a tougher movement if their ultimatum is not fulfilled.
Joynal Abedin Shishir, a protestor said, “Vice-Chancellor Prof Farzana Islam refused the allegation of BCL leaders, who received the project money. But, some BCL leaders have confessed that they got money from VC”. “After such allegation against the VC, she has lost her legality to hold her post. We declared this corrupted VC ‘unwanted’ in all examination halls during the admission tests and gave her an ultimatum to resign from her post by October 1”, he added.
Tarek Reza, a teacher of the University said, the felling of trees on the campus to execute the Tk 14.45 billion development project angered the teachers and students.
“We are sincerely requesting the VC to prove herself innocent,” Mahathir Mohammad, president of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front said, vowing to continue the protest until their demands are not met.
The agitated students of JU have been demonstrating on the campus since August 23 judicial probe into the allegations of corruption and irregularities.
Meanwhile, allegations came up against the authority of JU that they have paid Tk 2 crore to the Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Jahangirnagar unit to refrain the ruling party students’ wing from intervening in the construction project. According to JU sources, a few days before the holidays of Eid-ul-Azha, on August 8, vice-chancellor held a meeting with JU Chhatra league top leaders where the share of extortion money came to be discussed. The source also said that VC’s husband and son, who have alleged ties with one of the construction firms that won the tender, were also present in the meeting. The allegation of Tk 2 crore paid to Chhatra League was only for the first phase of the development as the original ‘deal’ was allegedly of Tk 6 crore, to be paid by three equal instalments when the future funds come.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved Tk 1445 crore for ‘further development of the university’ in October last year, according to the Planning and Development Office of the university. The first phase of the construction would involve making five dormitories costing around Tk 450 crore. Prepared over the last three years, the plan was designed by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and included the construction of 23 new buildings. However, it would require cutting down of 1150 trees.