City chokes on demo

Dhaka city commuters yesterday suffered immensely due to severe traffic congestion as students of seven colleges affiliated with Dhaka University barricaded the busy Nilkhet intersection for more than nine hours from 9:00am, demanding publication of exam results.

The agitating students continued their demonstration till 6:00pm despite the DU authorities’ assurance that the results would be published next month.

Several hundred students blocked the intersection with ropes around 9:00am after a sit-in. They barred every vehicle and even pedestrians from crossing the intersection till noon. Some of them sat on the middle of the road and chanted slogans.

Vehicular movement on the roads in Nilkhet and New Market areas remained halted for hours, causing severe traffic congestion in the adjacent roads.

They placed a five-point demand, including publication of Honours fourth and second-year exam results, withdrawal of a police case filed against 1,200 students following their July 20 Shahbagh protest, creating separate websites for the colleges, preparing academic calendars and publishing exam schedule for the third-year students.

The colleges are Dhaka College, Eden Mohila College, Shaheed Suhrawardy Government College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Mohila College, Mirpur Government Bangla College and Titumir Government College.

DU Vice Chancellor Prof Md Akhteruzzaman went to Nilkhet around 11:30am and assured the students that their results would be published by November.

Getting the assurance, the students cancelled their plan to submit a memorandum to the president, but didn’t withdraw the barricade.

Around noon, the DU authorities announced the schedule for their honours third-year exam.

They ended the agitation programme at 6:00pm and announced resuming their protest today.

The students, however, postponed today’s demonstration after the president and the secretary of DU Chhatra League assured them of arranging a meeting between the VC and the student leaders for fixing a specific date for publication of results.

“Until then, we postponed our agitation,” Mehedi Hasan, a student of Kabi Nazrul Government College, told this correspondent.

Yesterday’s agitation caused the traffic to go haywire, putting the commuters, especially school and office goers in trouble.

Kataban, Science Lab, Shahbagh, Green Road and Dhanmondi areas saw traffic chaos.

“I left home for New Market around 9:00am, but could not reach my destination even after three hours,” said Kafi Hassan, a resident of Dhanmondi.

Photo: Collected

Sabina Yasmin Khan, a prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal, said it took her one and a half hours to go to the High Court from Kathalbagan whereas it usually takes only 20 minutes.

Traffic policemen at the Aarong intersection on Manik Mia Avenue were seen diverting the vehicles heading for Kalabagan, Azimpur and Science Lab.

Asked about the delay in publishing results, Prof Akhteruzzaman said, “The main reason behind it was lack of coordination between National University and Dhaka University, and some mismanagement in the administration.”

“We will try to publish the results by November. If possible, we will do it this month,” he added.

The agitating students said they were frustrated at the delay as they could not apply for jobs.

“The university authorities are pushing our future into uncertainty. Now, we are left with no other choice but to stage demonstration. We will go for a tougher movement if needed,” said Jahir Islam, a student of Dhaka College.

“We are falling behind others in the job market as we could not sit for any competitive job test due to the delay in publishing the results,” he added.

The colleges got affiliated with the DU on February 16 this year when the final exams of Honours fourth year of the 2011-12 session were going on.

The exams were held in February under the National University. But the DU held the viva voce as the colleges had become affiliated with it.

The DU got the responsibility of publishing the results. But the authorities have failed to do so even nine months after the exams were held.

“Since the National University held the examinations, they should have finalised the results. But they did not give us [the DU] the tabulation sheets,” said a DU official seeking anonymity.

On Thursday, the students announced holding a protest rally at Shaheed Minar on Sunday to press home their five-point demand, but the university authorities did not allow them to hold the programme.

Earlier on July 20, students of the seven colleges staged a demonstration blocking the Shahbagh intersection, demanding immediate announcement of exam schedules for fourth-year students of the 2009-10 session.

Siddiqur Rahman, a student of Titumir Government College, went blind after he suffered severe injuries in his eyes in a police excess during the demonstration.

Following the incident, police filed a case with Shahbagh Police Station against 1,200 students of the colleges on July 21.