Chhatra League reins in its women

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The central leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League – the student body of the ruling party – barred their female members from protesting against the Pohela Boishakh assault on women on Dhaka University campus.

For reasons unknown, the Dhaka University unit of the student organisation also cancelled its Saturday’s protest against the assault.

DU-based female leaders and activists of Chhatra League, along with general female students, were scheduled to hold the protest programme on the campus on Friday afternoon.

The presidents and general secretaries of Chhatra League’s female hall units had convened the other female students of the university through social media.

They talked to the senior leaders of the organisation’s central committee and university chapter and publicised the programme only after getting a positive response.

However, according to sources, around 12 noon on Friday, hours before the programme’s schedule, Chhatra League’s central General Secretary Siddique Nazmul Alam called up the female leaders and lambasted them for organising the protest.

Seeking anonymity, a DU-based leader told the Dhaka Tribune: “We cancelled the programme because we were asked not to stage it. We have no option but to comply with what the seniors say.”

On April 14 – Pohela Boishakh – a woman almost bare from the assault near the TSC roundabout ran towards the nearby Rokeya Hall and took shelter in its guest room. Eshat Kashfia Era, general secretary of the hall unit Chhatra Leauge, helped her put on her sari again.

Era, one of the organisers of Friday’s protest, said yesterday such assaults on women have become common in the TSC area during major programmes.

Asked why they cancelled the protest, Era said: “We must follow the senior leaders’ commands.”

On cancelling Saturday’s programme, Mehedi Hasan, president of Chhatra League’s DU unit, claimed they had never planned any such programme.

“It [protesting the assault] is not Chhatra League’s duty alone,” said Omar Sharif, a close associate of Mehedi.

When contacted, Chhatra League General Secretary Siddique Nazmul Alam denied allegations he had prevented the female leaders from holding protests.

“I do not know anything about this. We are very busy with the upcoming city corporation elections,” he said.

Bangladesh Chhatra Union, student front of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, has been leading the protests since Pohela Boishakh. It had scheduled a countrywide protest for today.

Several other political and non-political student and civil bodies have already staged various programmes protesting the assault.

Holding protests centring on social and political issues is nothing new for the ruling party’s student body. That is why many have termed Chhatra League’s silence on the Pohela Boishakh assault issue strange.

Source: New Age