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SUST students break hunger strike at Jafar Iqbal’s request

SUST Correspondent : Over two dozen students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) who hadn’t eaten in seven days ended their hunger strike on Wednesday.

The students embarked on fast-unto-death on the university campus on January 19, demanding the resignation of SUST Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed over police crackdown on their fellows.
Around 10.20am on Wednesday, the students broke their fast after former SUST Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal gave them water to drink.

The eminent writer and his wife Yesmeen Huq, also a former SUST teacher, came to the university in Sylhet from Dhaka around 4am and met the protesting students.

“We met a high-level delegation at our residence over the issue and they assured us of meeting your demands. What you want will be fulfilled,” Prof Zafar told the protesting students.

“Life is so precious. Why do you want to sacrifice your life for one person? It’s just not acceptable. You have promised me before the media to break your fast. So do it,” he told the students.

Prof Zafar also condemned the arrest of five alumni of SUST for allegedly sending money to the protesters at the university.

“I got Tk 10,000 for a write-up on the occasion of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary. I will give you the money. Now let the police arrest me,” he told the protesting SUST students.
Prof Zafar also urged the law enforcement agencies not to physically assault any student. “Already you have assaulted the students and done great damage. Please do not do it again and refrain from harassing them too.”

On the five former students of SUST, Prof Zafar, said, “Already police have filed a case against them and they will be produced in a court. I have got an assurance that they will be out after getting bail.”

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Tuesday arrested the five former students for “sending money to the protesting students at the university”.

An FIR was lodged against them on Tuesday night at the Jalalabad police station, said Nazmul Huda Khan, the officer-in-charge.

Meanwhile, Bibekban Nagarik Samaj, a platform for civil society members, has announced a long march from Dhaka to Sylhet in support of the students.

The students embarked on fast-unto-death on the university campus on January 19, demanding the resignation of SUST Vice-Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed over police crackdown on their fellows.

The hunger strike was launched on January 19 by 24 students and later one of them had to leave due to a family obligation. Three days later, three more students joined their fellows in the hunger strike.

The strike was launched after police swooped on the protesting students, charging batons and firing sound grenades and shotgun bullets.

The alleged attack was carried out to free the V-C from confinement in the university’s IICT building, and it had left 40 people hurt, including teachers, students and cops.

Zafrin Ahmed, a provost of Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall, a dorm for females, was at the centre of the initial unrest as she allegedly misbehaved with some students on January 13 when they met her with some complaints.

She later resigned from her post, citing health issues.

Provost Zafrin’s removal was one of the initial demands of the students protesting on the campus. But it has now spread to the general students as well.