The unrest at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) deepened on Sunday evening as its protesting students disconnected electricity supply to the Vice-Chancellor’s residence as he refused to step down as per their demand.
The students said they disconnected the power supply at 7:20 pm leaving the SUST guesthouse, teacher’s dormitory nearby the VC’s residence in the darkness.
On day five of the hunger strike, 15 of the 24 students on hunger strike since Wednesday 3:00 pm remained admitted to different hospitals in Sylhet city, reports UNB.
On Sunday afternoon, four more students joined their fellows in the hunger strike taking their total number to 27. Earlier, one of the 24 students had to leave the strike due to his relative’s sickness.
The students went on the strike unto death demanding resignation of Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed over the police action on the protesting students as his behest on Wednesday.
Most of the students suffering from weakness are put on saline at the venue as they are not taking any water or other liquid, witnesses said.
They, however, vowed to continue their strike until the VC resigns and formed a human chain in front of the VC’s residence not allowing anyone except police to enter.
Zafrin Ahmed, Provost of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall, was at the centre of the trouble as she reportedly misbehaved with some students on January 13. She has already resigned from her post, citing health issues.
Zafrin’s removal as the provost of the residential hall for female students was one of the principal demands of the students protesting on the campus.
Virtual meeting with Dipu Moni
Although there was an hour-long virtual meeting between Education Minister Dipu Moni and protesting students of SUST early Sunday, no solution was in sight yet to break the long standoff on the campus.
After the meeting, the students remained stuck to their previous decision not to break the fast until the VC steps down, representatives of the dissenting students told UNB.
They claimed that no discussion was held at the meeting over the VC’s removal or sending him on leave.
Dipu Moni suggested the students submit their demands in a written form and then she will go for the next step.
The virtual meeting was held in presence of a delegation from Awami League, led by its central organising secretary Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel.
Briefing reporters at 2:30 am after the meeting, Shafiul Alam said, the minister assured the students of resolving the crisis and requested them to end the hunger strike as she is ready to hear their problems.
Shahriar Abedin, Apurbo, Mir Rana, Sabbir, Umar Faruk, Yasir Sarkar, among others, joined the meeting on behalf of the students.
On Saturday, the minister held a meeting with a delegation of teachers from SUST at her residence at 6:05pm when she urged the dissenting students to sit with her for talks to resolve the current standoff.
On Friday, Education Minister Dipu Moni talked to the students and said she wants a solution to the crisis as soon as possible.
On Monday, the students wrote an open letter to President Abdul Hamid, chancellor of the university, demanding the immediate removal of VC Farid Uddin Ahmed.
The students also turned down the notice of shutting down the university for an indefinite period and the directive to leave their dormitories.
Currently, the students are staying on the campus.
SUST was supposed to shut down following a clash on the campus between police and the protesting students on January 16. The students were asked to leave the dormitories by 12pm the next day.