Dhaka, April 11: Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina today announced scrapping of quota system in public service and urged students to return to their classes.
“To stop the sufferings and troubles, the quota system has been cancelled,” the premier said in a statement in parliament referring to the impact of the protests affecting public life and disruption of academic activities in universities.
The premier added: “Classes and examinations were suspended at all universities and the common people are suffering from severe traffic jam due to the demonstrations of the students demanding reform in quota system.”
“Why the common people will suffer repeatedly,” she said in reply to a supplementary raised by Awami League lawmaker Jahangir Kabir Nanak in the House.
The premier noted that female students also took to the street demanding reform in public service quota system and “I assume that they also don’t want quota” during discussions with Obaidul Quader the girls’ representatives were there as well.
“They said in the discussion that they will get job through (appearing) examinations . . . it’s a good statement and I’m very happy. As they don’t want quota, what is the necessity of it. There is no need of this system,” she said.
The premier, however, said the government could create job arrangement for the people with disabilities and the ethnic minority ones after abolishing the quota system.
Sheikh Hasina said the students demonstrated enough protests and “now we want them to return to their classes”.
But the premier simultaneously vowed to expose to justice the perpetrators of vandalism and looting at the Dhaka University vice-chancellor’s house saying they were not “eligible to be students” and asked students to find out the looted materials.
“The students will have to find out that who ransacked and looted the VC’s house and where are the looted goods … those who are involved in it must be brought to the book,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said they have directed the intelligence agencies to investigate in this regard, saying that her government cannot accept such a big offence.
“We want cooperation of the teachers and students to this end,” she said.
The premier strongly condemning the attack on the VC’s house and said by insulting teachers and elders one cannot receive education though may obtain a certificate saying “may be a degree can be obtained, nothing else”.
“Being the prime minister or whatever I may be, I am still a student before them (my teachers) and I behave with them in that way,” she said
The premier said the VC’s house was ransacked and looted the way the Pakistani occupation forces looted “our house in Dhanmondi 32 and attempts were (also) made to hit the VC . . . It’s a heinous incident and I strongly condemn it”.
The prime minister said the attack was made in a planned way and those who carried out the assault “are not eligible to be university students (as) no student can insult his/her teacher in this way”.
The premier said her government earlier took into account the students demand and “the issue was discussed in the cabinet meeting and Obaidul Quader was given the task to hold discussion with them and accordingly, he held talks with them”.
Sheikh Hasina said simultaneously she asked the cabinet secretary to examine the issue and hold discussion with all concerned.
“Many students accepted it and many didn’t accept . . . many students stayed at the TSC for the entire night. Why it happened when the discussion was underway and what was the justification to continue the movement?” she asked.
The prime minister said the students vandalised and burnt materials prepared for the Mongal Shobhajatra, the UNESCO heritage, for the Bengali New Year celebrations and again asked “why the students will unleash destructive acts”.
Sheikh Hasina said the female students came out of their dormitories at late night and she couldn’t sleep for whole night. “I phoned time and again and sent (Jahangir Kabir) Nanak along with Chhatra League president and secretary to the spot to hold discussion with them,” she said.
The premier said they discussed with the students and informed the reporters about the outcome of the talks but yet the students continued to stage the demonstration and the government and private university students even the students outside the capital took to the streets. “This is not for the first time, the demand of quota system reform came . . . time and again it was reformed,” she said.
The premier said her government was running the state with a principle and it was very much aware of the wellbeing of the students.
She said the quota system has been continuing since 1972 and it was reformed several times.
“Whatever remains vacant in quota, we always fill them up from the merit list if the quota is not fulfilled,” she said particularly referring to mentioning the 33rd, 35th and 36th BCS examinations.