On July 2, 2018, alleged members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), a national student political organization, attacked student activists from Rajshahi University (RU) participating in a peaceful protest. At least 12 students were reportedly injured.
At least thirty RU students supporting a nationwide movement to reform the country’s civil service quota system participated in the protest march to the main campus entrance. As the quota reform activists arrived on campus, roughly fifty BCL members waiting at the entrance reportedly attacked them with hammers, iron rods, machetes, and sticks. Tariqul Islam Tarek, a RU student and leader of the quota reform movement, was severely injured and hospitalized to treat his broken leg, a head injury, and spinal damage. Police were reportedly at the scene of the protest, but it is unclear what actions they had taken, if any, to prevent or halt the attack.
This incident is part of an ongoing series of attacks by BCL members against students participating in the quota reform protests.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent clashes during a peaceful student protest. State and university authorities have a responsibility to prevent violence on campus, and to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of such attacks. While students have a right to freedom of expression, they also have a responsibility to exercise that right peacefully and responsibly, including especially by refraining from using violence against fellow students. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such attacks threaten academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.