Inside Politics

Chhatra League is the burden of Awami League?


In January 1969, under the leadership of Chhatra League, the united student movement council, known as Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad, was formed and demanded 11 points. In the first point (Dha), it was stated that half of the fare on trains, steamers, and launches should be provided to students upon showing their identity cards. This matter of utmost importance has never been incorporated into any government law. Although some verbal agreements led to providing students with half fares on certain means of transportation, there has been no written contract or declaration.

Now, students are protesting demanding half fares for bus transportation. Students are running a movement demanding the issuance of a declaration regarding the commencement of half-passenger services for all types of transportation except ambulances on the main roads of the capital. In the movement, allegations of attacks on students in the Science Laboratory area have arisen. Students claim that the attackers are Chhatra League activists. It is noteworthy that the Chhatra League, under whose leadership the 11-point demand for half fares and other benefits for common students was announced against the dictatorial rulers of West Pakistan, has now resorted to attacking students protesting half fares on the streets!

On one hand, Chhatra League is attacking students involved in the ongoing movement, while on the other hand, Chhatra League President Al Nahian Khan Joy urging transportation owners to accept the demand for half fares on buses, showing support for the students' demands. This dual behavior of Chhatra League and the future of student politics and its role in the political arena are raising various questions in the minds of the public. Due to such misconduct by Chhatra League and other affiliated organizations, the main party, Bangladesh Awami League, is perceived to be weakening significantly in terms of its image, according to political analysts.

The government is also aware of the allegations against Chhatra League. Not too long ago, on November 17th, in Tangail, leaders of the Ganaodhikar Parishad, Dr. Reza Kibria, and former Vice-President of Dhaka University Nurul Haque Nur were attacked by Chhatra League for attending a rally at the shrine of Maulana Bhasani. Over time, Nurul has been a victim of repeated attacks by Chhatra League. Even yesterday, Friday evening at 3 o'clock, Chhatra League and Juba League allegedly attacked activists of the Ganaodhikar Parishad during the Ananda Rally of the organization in Mymensingh. Although after the incident Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hinted at a new political party led by Dr. Reza Kibria and Nurul Haque Nur during a meeting of the central executive committee of the Awami League and said, "I have told the IGP that those who want to form a new party, they should be allowed to do so, and they should form their party and work. A multiparty democracy exists here. So, there should be no hindrance here. If they want to hold rallies, let them do it. Why should we obstruct rallies?"

Even after the statement of the Awami League president, the 'Ganaodhikar Parishad' has become the victim of two consecutive attacks by Chhatra League. On the past Tuesday, not only did they physically assault the students, but they also snatched a student from Ideal College after a brief chase and exchange of blows. He remained missing for almost 5 hours, as confirmed by multiple sources. As a result, the question arises as to why Chhatra League had to resort to repression instead of expressing unity with the students' demands.

Even on the day before this incident, in an exclusive conversation with Bangla Insider, a former influential leader of Chhatra League, a member of Awami League's Presidium, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, expressed his support for the students' demand for half fares. He said, "I support this demand of the students." Following that, Information Minister Hassan Mahmud and Murad Hasan also expressed their support for this demand. Then, last Thursday, the President of Chhatra League also expressed solidarity with the students' demand. However, there was a significant delay, and by that time, an element within Chhatra League had already resorted to violence against the students.

In recent times, several controversial incidents involving Chhatra League have made headlines one after another. Especially at Chittagong Medical College, a Chhatra League worker, known as Mahadi Jay Akib, had to face a life-threatening situation due to clashes between two factions of Chhatra League. After a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical College had to be closed again due to this incident. Additionally, in Pirganj, Rangpur, communal violence and attacks on minority communities have been linked to a Chhatra League leader named Saikat Mandal.

The absence of opposition student organizations has turned the violence by Chhatra League against Chhatra League into a daily issue. In the past 12 years, Chhatra League's internal conflicts have led to numerous incidents such as attacks on opponents, extortion, power struggles, gunfights, clashes, vandalism, drug trafficking, and control over examination centers, resulting in the loss of around 130 lives. The horrifying scenes of the murder of Bishwajit in the hands of Chhatra League leaders in Dhaka a few years ago were witnessed by the people of the country. Incidents like throwing the principal into the pond at Barishal College, acid attacks on teachers at Rangpur Begum Rokeya University, setting fire to the hostel of MC College in Sylhet, and recent incidents of sexual harassment and broadcasting videos with multiple criminal cases have tarnished the image of Chhatra League in several areas.

Two years ago, in 2019, the President and General Secretary of the Chhatra League was exempted from the party after demanded extortion from Jahangirnagar University’s VC in the name of 'chanda' (donation).

Political analysts say that in the 1950s and 1960s, Chhatra League was a more vibrant organization on the political stage than the Awami League itself. However, they have distanced themselves from that position long ago. It is their departure from the educational institutions that has led them to launch attacks on students instead of supporting their demands. If activists engage in any conspiracy or attempt to destabilize the country, there are law enforcement agencies and intelligence personnel to deal with that. There is no need to attack students for this purpose. While the previous Chhatra League had many achievements, the current leaders of Chhatra League are tarnishing all of those accomplishments. In addition to the allegations against Chhatra League, there are numerous complaints from the general public. Fame has diminished, but allegations have increased. Currently, in every disaster happening in the country, the names of this organization's leaders come up. From student politics to tender manipulation, starting from extortion, question paper leaks, intrusion, female harassment, and even assault, their involvement can be found everywhere.

Chhatra League   Awami League