Hundreds of Dhaka University students stay at mosques, corridors, Ex-student leaders occupy a large number of hall seats

Hundreds of Dhaka University students stay at mosques, corridors, Ex-student leaders occupy a large number of hall seats

Resident students of first and second semesters at Dhaka University (DU) continue to suffer the brunt of seat crisis compounded by a good number of former students still occupying rooms at the halls.

Over 1,000 male students have been living in inhumane conditions at different dormitories. The crisis is acute especially at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall, Haji Mohammad Muhsin Hall, Sir AF Rahman Hall and Salimullah Muslim Hall. There, over 500 students have been staying in mosques, corridors and ‘Gono’ rooms, four-bed rooms used to accommodate 30 to 32 boarders.

But none of halls and university authorities seems much concerned about their plight. There has been hardly any effort from the administration to accommodate the students by evicting the former students, mostly belonging to JCD, the student wing of BNP.

Talking to The Daily Star, several students living at the makeshift shelters said they could comfortably stay at halls had the authorities forced the illegal occupants to leave.

"But that’s not going to happen as most of the house tutors and provosts are supporters of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami and thus on the side of JCD cadres," said a student living in AF Rahman Hall mosque for the last seven months. He was speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

For a place to sleep, new students have to throw themselves on the mercy of JCD leaders, who control the hall mosques, corridors and Gono Rooms.

Describing the ordeal they go through every night, Saifullah, an Islamic history student living at Bangabandhu Hall, said, “There’s no way we can have some sound sleep here. While in bed on the floor, we can’t move to our right or left as the room is stuffed full of students like us.

“To make things worse, new faces [those enrolled for academic session 2007-08] join the ranks on almost every night. Many of us prefer sitting on chairs at the reading room or wandering the streets on campus till the night is over.”

Rashed, a student of Zia Hall, said, “Even if anyone finds space to lie down he cannot get to sleep due to heat and bites of mosquito and other bugs. Some of us are already suffering from skin diseases.”

Kabir, a second semester student of mass communication and journalism who has taken refuge in Bangabandhu Hall mosque, said, "Speaking at our faculty’s reception ceremony for us [freshers], the VC sir said the seat crisis would soon be solved. Since then, seven months have passed, but I haven’t seen any house tutor or anyone from the authorities visiting us to take note of the situation.”

The story is same at almost every hall. The number of "Gono Rooms" keeps growing also at Surya Sen, Zahurul Haque and Kabi Jasimuddin halls.

Students of Bangabandhu Hall alleged that despite repeated demands the hall authorities did not allocate them the two rooms adjoining the mosque that have been fell useless.

Following student demonstrations, the hall administration in February announced they would rehabilitate those without seats within then seven days.

Asked about the crisis, Prof Mohammad Mahfujul Islam, provost of Bangabandhu Hall, said they would soon hand over two rooms near the mosque to the students and allot regular seats for them by next June or July.

"I have issued notices several times asking the non-students to leave the hall. But they don’t heed to our orders," he said about those occupying seats even after completion of studies.

Queried if they have any specific plan to resolve the seat crisis students in the long term, Provost of Muhsin Hall Prof Ahmed Jamal Anwar, also convener of the Provost Committee, said, "We have discussed the matter at the provost committee on a number of occasions but could not find a way out."

He added that without building new halls it is impossible to end the crisis.

About those in residence at the halls despite completing studies, he said, "Most of them are political leaders and are staying taking support from fellow activists.”

“Sometimes we conduct raids and evict them. But after a few days they return with help from the leaders and workers of their organisations," he added.

Talking to the Daily Star last night, DU Vice-chancellor Prof SMA Faiz said recognising the gravity of seat crisis the university authorities have decided to encourage and if necessary help the students find rooms near the campus to rent.

"Besides, the hall administration should take steps to rid the halls of illegal occupants and make room for the resident students without a place," observed Prof Faiz.

report by Rakib Ahammed | Link posed by Raihan Rahim | Original source

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