Student politics in educational institutions has historical importance. History showed us that students, who had engaged them with student politics at university and other educational institutions, joined and led the freedom movement. Likewise, student politics had a glorious contribution in the birth of Bangladesh.
Especially, in the Language Movement of 1952, the historic six-point movement of '66, the mass movement of '69, including achieving independence through the Great War of Liberation in '71 -- the role of students was crucial in creating the context of every historic victory and making the movement successful.
Student politics also helps utilize the strength of the youth in contributing to national political developments and makes students aware of their rights and responsibilities towards the country. It is the platform where students are nursered to become a future politician.
But, a few weeks ago students and teachers were demanding the termination of student politics after the brutal murder of Abrar Fahad, a second-year student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) who was beaten to death on October 6. Later, not only BUET's students but also the teachers, guardians, and students of all over the country were demanding the termination of student politics on social media.
In that case, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a press conference at her Gano Bhaban residence in Dhaka said that "Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) authorities can ban student politics on the campus if the university wants to do it." But, she ruled out the possibility of banning student politics in the country saying that student politics cannot be prohibited following a single incident (Abrar's murder).
The situation will get worse if student politics is banned. Then students will have no voice, there will be no one to speak against the wrong. The government will establish single domination of the administration of religious extremists or fundamentalists will also take advantage whenever student politics is banned.
According to some former student leaders, 'Religious extremists may cash in on the ban on political activities at BUET.' Fundamentalists will take advantage whenever student politics is banned. It had happened before. Besides that, there will be no one to speak against the wrong and secure the basic rights of the students.
In the context of Bangladesh, the basic difference between student politics and partisan student politics is that through partisan student politics the political parties, especially the ruling parties, use student activists into pawns for the party's gains. For example, students have been used to control the campus or educational institution and thrash the opposition student activists and unleashed against the non-partisan student and youth movements.
On the other hand, the main two characteristics of student politics are ideological position, the ideals they will practice and secondly they will have a position and movement in favor of justice and equity. Student politics aims to engage youth in politics to interpret changes in society that are beneficial to all citizens, and then, to find ways of making effective institutional management and education system. In Student politics, leaders are answerable to general students for their activities and mostly selfless and beyond partisan interest.
Furthermore, student politics is the platform where students are nurseries to become a future politician and provide the opportunity to the middle-class society to join mainstream politics. Student politics helps to emerge politicians from a middle-class family. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the Bengali nation was also from a middle-class family who emerged as a leader through student politics.
Lastly, we can say that the politics of terrorism and murder that started in the name of student politics should stop, not student politics. Proper student politics helps find future leaders for the country. We should eliminate the disease, not the patient. Who will raise voice about the rights of students, if there is no student politics? Who will lead the country in the future?
The writer is a masters' student at the Department of Public Administration, Comilla University
-Harun Ar Rashid Mamun
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