DU holds convocation amid protests

Dhaka Correspondent

Dhaka Correspondent

Bangladesh Chhatra League, student wing of Awami League, wore black ribbons during a silent procession in protest against the presence of the Chancellor of the University President Iajuddin Ahmed on campus during the 44th Convocation at the Dhaka University. Dhaka, Bangladesh. April 7 2008:Photo- © Amdadul Huq/DrikNEWS.

The University of Dhaka held its 44th convocation on Monday amid boycott by a section of teachers and different student organisations in protest at the presence of the president Iajuddin Ahmed, also the chancellor of the university. 

The university conferred honorary doctor of law degrees on 1952 language movement heroes, Abdul Matin and Gaziul Haque, at the convocation. 

Abdul Matin also delivered the convocation speech and Gaziul Haque’s son, Rahul Gazi received the degree on his father’s behalf. 

The university gave out certificates among 3,385 graduates, including 2,042 females. 

Thirty-three students were awarded gold medals for their outstanding academic performances. Twenty-nine students received doctorate degrees and 24 M Phil degrees. 

President Iajuddin Ahmed chaired the convocation. Diplomats, representatives of foreign missions in Bangladesh and other dignitaries attended the programme on the university playground. No political leaders were seen in the rows reserved for guests. The row reserved for the members on the university senate and syndicate also remained empty all along the programme.

The convocation began with a procession led by the chancellor and joined in by convocation speaker Abdul Matin, vice-chancellor SMA Faiz, deans of faculties, and the teachers from the Curzon Hall in the morning. 

Security was tightened on and around the campus with the deployment of the personnel of the Special Security Force, Special Branch, National Security Intelligence, Rapid Action Battalion and the police. 

The student organisations and teachers with progressive ideals boycotted the programme to protest against the presence of Iajuddin. 

Activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, student front of Awami League, paraded the campus in a silent procession with black cloths wrapped around their faces as a mark of protest against the presence of Iajuddin at the convocation. 

The Chhatra League activists, who earlier gathered at Madhu’s Canteen, came out one after another as the president arrived on the campus. They joined in a procession carrying placards inscribed with ‘Iajuddin, enemy of education, go back’, ‘enemy of democracy, go back’.  

After the procession, they held a rally at Aparajeya Bangla, where the student leaders accused the president of being responsible for the present political crisis and declared him persona-non-grata on the campus. 

Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, BNP’s student wing, boycotted the convocation saying that the president had not played the expected role in the release of the teachers and students detained after August 2007 campus protests. 

Mujibur Rahman, a student of sociology, and two of his friends staged demonstration at the Aparajeya Bangla against ‘commercialisation of the convocation’. They also set fire to convocation cap. 

The university authorities had taken sponsorship from a number of corporate houses and published an unusual jacket-advertisement in the local edition of the International Herald Tribune. No advertisements for the convocation were printed in local newspapers.  

The university campus wore a festive look as hundreds of jubilant students in convocation robes moved around and remained busy holding photo sessions. 

President Iajuddin Ahmed, in his speech, said that a large chunk of public money was being spent on Dhaka University and other public universities for real interest of the nation and suggested ‘cautionary measures’ so that the people were not deprived. 

‘The universities do not need code of conducts like other institutions but some cautionary measures need to be taken so that the people are not deprived’, he said. 

‘Guardians should be involved in running the universities alongside teachers, students, officers and employees’, he said. 

‘Although the state of sessions jam in public universities is not alarming, it remains a cause for worries. It escalates educational expenses and wastes many valuable years in the students’ life. I call upon all students, teachers, guardians, civil society members and national leaders to give a serious thought to the problem’, he said. 

Language movement hero Abdul Matin, in the convocation speech, urged the government to declare the language martyrs as national heroes and suggested formation of a commission comprising members from all quarters concerned to establish Bangla  language in every sphere of national life. 

‘There are some other small communities in the country who speak in their own languages. If we ignore their mother tongue, we would face a setback as a nation’, he added. 

Abdul Matin also stressed the need for learning other languages, including English, and asked Dhaka University to be the pioneer in teaching other languages. 

Recalling the glorious history of the university, vice-chancellor SMA Faiz urged the graduates to contribute to the welfare of the people of the country.