Saturday, November 9th, 2019

PM warns of punitive actions against instigating varsity students

Published 9:26 pm | November 09, 2019

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today warned of punitive actions against instigating students to create unrest in public universities reminding all concerned that these institutions of higher studies are run with public money.

“Leading students to a wrong path through provocation and sweet words is unacceptable . . . nobody can allow this,” she said while inaugurating the Bangladesh Jatiya Sramik League’s (BJSL) 13th national council at Suhrawardy Udyan here this afternoon.

In an apparent reference to the current unrest in Jahangirnagar University and other public universities, the premier said if the situation continued the government might stop funding these institutions which would require agitators or their instigators to bear their study expenses.

“The government will stop (giving) all money. Because the public universities are autonomous bodies . . . Why the government will bear their expenses,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina asked those who were waging the movements at the universities for various demands to think that what they would do.

Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Munnujan Sufian and AL Labour Affairs Secretary Habibur Rahman Siraj also spoke at the function.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country DirectorTuomo Poutiainen, General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC AP) Shoya Yoshida and South Asian Regional Trade Union Council General Secretary Laxman Bahadur Basnet addressed the function.

BJSL President Alhaz Sukkur Mahmud presided over the inaugural session of the conference, while its Executive President Fazlul Haque Mantu read out obituary reference and General Secretary Sirajul Islam delivered the welcome address.

Earlier, the prime minister opened the conference by releasing pigeons and balloons in the morning.

The premier said some people are unnecessarily raising allegations (against the university authorities) whether those are right or wrong.

“There are laws in the country and if anybody brings false allegations against anyone, the complainant will be tried and punished under those laws,” she said.

“So, I will tell those bringing false allegations to see those laws. You cannot forget that we were also students of the universities and pursued study there,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said there is no country like Bangladesh, where the public universities provide education to students at so much low cost.

“It’s true that autonomy prevails in public universities in Bangladesh. But it’s the government which provides money … how much money a student of a public university spends for study? It’s maximum Tk 150 a month. Can they pursue higher study with this money?” she questioned.

The prime minister also questioned as to how much money is spent in each semester after being admitted to the private universities.

Sheikh Hasina said Tk 2 lakh or more is being spent for a student at a public university. The amount is higher at engineering, medical or vocational institutions and the government is providing all expenses, she said.

“We want discipline to exist there and the students to get proper education. We want them to build their life beautifully,” she said.

The prime minister said: “Many people say that we don’t understand the public universities. From this comment, it seems that only those creating disorder (in the universities) understand the public universities.”

She continued: “And those who are hampering study of the students by wasting working hours only understand the public universities. We’ll not understand it.”

Sheikh Hasina said the government will provide money and do all development projects and those staging demonstrations feel very good to accept it. “But the government cannot take any action there, it can never happens,” she said.

The prime minister said there is a saying that “independence is good, but it’s not for boys” and this will have to be kept in mind. “I think it’s better not to speak such type of childish word,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is advancing fast as a massive change took place in the last one decade in the country. “But we saw frequent coups, killings and conspiracies after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975,” she said.

The premier said: “We didn’t hear those who are talking today say anything against the military dictator at that time. Rather we saw them licking the boots of the military dictator.”

Elaborating her government’s various steps for the welfare of the workers, the prime minister said: “We’re always sincere in the wellbeing of the working class.”

“Whatever classes the people belong to, we treat them as human beings and we give the dignity of their labour,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government did not only keep the country’s economy dependent on agriculture. “We’ve also given attention to industrialization alongside agriculture,” she said.

The prime minister said after 1975, a scope was given for looting in the name of privatisation of the state-owned enterprises. “Most of the organisations were in a critical condition,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said industrialization is advancing thanks to various steps of her government. “Whenever the Awami League government came to power, it worked for the welfare of the working class people,” she said.

The premier said the aim of the government is to change the lot of the working class people, improve their living standard and ensure better future for the members of their families. “It’s the policy of the Awami League and we’re running the country with this policy,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government is giving attention so that production of the mills and factories remains uninterrupted. “Peace, production and development are interlinked in industries and we want these to continue,” she said.

Pointing out increase of salaries for the workers, the prime minister said her government has raised the minimum wages for them by 380 percent to Tk 8000 from Tk 1600.

“We’ve established Workers Welfare Foundation Fund for the workers working in institutional and non-institutional sectors and Tk 400 crore were deposited in the fund,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has enacted many time-befitting laws for the welfare of the workers. “To remove child labour, we have framed Child Labour Policy-2010,” she said.

The prime minister said the government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country for further industrialization and generating employment. “We’ve taken the initiatives so that mills and factories are not established here and there by destroying farmlands,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is now marching ahead with a huge success of development along with the spirit of the liberation war due to continuation of the government since 2009.

In this regard, the prime minister called upon leaders and workers of Jatiya Sramik League to work for further development of the country and ensure welfare of the workers.

“The present committee of the organisation worked a lot for welfare of the workers and the body which will be formed through this council will also work for the workers,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina also reiterated her determination to build a hunger- and-poverty-free middle income country by 2021 and developed and prosperous one by 2041.


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