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DU Authority's Crusade Against Madrasah Students

Edit Date:7/21/2010 12:00:00 AM


Shimul Chaudhury
05 March 2010

Madrasah students in Bangladesh generally come from ordinary families and mostly from the rural areas. Caricaturing them in the media and showing disrespect to them in society have considerably increased in the last few years, and this for no good reasons. This is despite the fact that, madrasah students in general are polite and law-abiding. The country can get immense benefit by using this 'character' capital of the madrasah people with a better government policy of 'accommodation' and not of 'isolation'. However, a contrary attitude is noticed in public policies, especially in the arenas of education and employment. 

Especially in some public universities including DU, there are many teachers who try to humiliate madrasah students in the class-rooms simply because of their dress difference and their educational background. They tend to essentialise the madrasah students as backward, rustic and now 'extremist', which is nothing but a crude, unfortunate over-generalisation. A great number of madrasah students have been threatened and driven out from different students' dormitories of Dhaka University , and no remedy has been done by the University authority yet to facilitate their safe return to the halls. As a result, poor DU students with madrasah background have to live in squalid condition in different messes in the city, which is incurring them extreme economic difficulties to say the least. 

In the West, the left groups in general raise their voice against such kind of prejudice and oppression on a particular class of society. Unfortunately, the left movement in  Bangladesh long ago swerved from their ideal of standing by the underdogs. It is in most cases complicit with the capitalists and with sectarian party politics. If the the left people were true to their principle, we may have seen a strong movement long ago to right the wrong against madrasah students who are downtrodden hence ignored by the elite. In the absence of a genuine left movement in the country, alas! discrimination against madrasah students has gone unabated and with impunity. 

One teacher of the Economics Department of Dhaka University has recently gone as far as suggesting the closure of the madrasah education system. An objective study on the people who discriminate against madrasah students and want the government to gradually stop this stream of education would indicate that, their problem with madrasah education lies somewhere else: its is their prejudice and hatred to Islam and to Islamic institutions. 

This disease of prejudice and hatred to madrasah has been found most conspicuous in the approach of the new DU authority with regard to the legal proceedings of the madrasah students' admission row. On Wednesday 20 January 2009, the High Court Bench of the Supreme Court in Dhaka issued a 'ruling absolute' and "declared illegal the Dhaka University's (DU) new admission rules that disqualify madrasa students for admission to the university's seven departments" (Daily Star, Dhaka, 21 January 2009). Needless to say, this verdict was issued considering the broader perspective of equal rights of madrasah students as the citizens of the country. On Monday 26 January 2009 , DU authority filed an appeal to the Supreme Court with a prayer to stay the High Court verdict. On 28 Janurary 2009, the Supreme Court (SC) "upheld the High Court (HC) verdict" and rejected "the DU's petition for staying the HC judgement" (Daily Star, Dhaka , 29 January 2009 ). 

Now despite this clear verdict by both the High Court and the Supreme Court, the DU authority appealed again on the ground that during its previous appeal it did not have the 'certified copy' of the High Court verdict. And this makes the whole story a little ludicrous and laughable. However, since the DU now had a patron government in power, this time they managed to obtain a verdict against the madrasah students. Thanks to government favour!

The new administration of DU does not seem to have any concern for the thousands of students who wait so anxiously to get themselves admitted in their dream university. Because of the prejudice of few individuals at the upper echelon of the DU administration, the future of so many students is being disregarded and the anxiety and concern of the parents and guardians is being aggravated. Obviously, the ultimate sufferer is the country itself. I request all responsible intellectuals to use their moral pressure to restore the fundamental rights of madrasah students and to allow them them to compete for admission on equal terms.

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