Student anger again rocks Dhaka university campus and has recently been reported to be spreading to another campuses. The rage, this time, is against the member of nations’ defence forces camped in Dhaka university gymnasium. A trivial soccer field browl started this episode of student unrest.
While a heated debate goes on at Unheard Voices, not very surprisingly, there are quite a few voices against this student movement in favor of the military occupation of Dhaka University. This is in sharp contrast to the overwhelming public support any student movement used to enjoy in this part of the world.
Anyway, this movement begins at a time, when people started asking whether the once famous student power, the uncontrollable force of collective rage, is still alive and waiting to be awaken. Although the events of last night definitely answered the query-question remains whether this major student protest would have any impact to the political scene of Bangladesh.
We have to remember that this is simply an outburst of anger against a local problem, i.e. the army camp or merely a petty problem i.e. the student-soldier altercation over a soccer match. This is no way comparable to the student’s nationalistic or pro-democracy movements of 69, 71 or 84-90. The same stuidents who are protesting today, did also protest against the police atrocity in Shamsunnahar hall or mass rape in JU. However, in between these events, students remained carefully detached from more pressing national or civic issues or from the calls of national political leadership. Even in very recent past, when an army camp was set up at DU gymnasium, there was not a single word of protest against it. The violent protests of October/November and even of 1996 didn’t see student participation. So I remain skeptical of the immediate future of this movement to become an allout antigovernment agitation.
However, despite the intention and the cause, this student protest sends a very strong signal. This is the first time, at this term, military forces were again made aware a formidable force, which is not scared of them. In recent Bangladesh, in both military and civil circles, militray officers were near God. The events last night, when a CGS MAj Gen Jamali was chased at DMCH, or when another all powerful Brig general was physically assaulted ( By no means an accerptable form of protest), would make the defence forces look more mortal in public eyes. The fear tactic will be less effective from now on. An unease will start taking shape in civil-military intercations.