Photo Credit: AFP

Bangladesh: Students Storm Road Against Reservation, Demand Abolition of Quota in Govt Jobs

Dhaka: Thousands of students created roadblocks on major highways on July 7, demanding an end to “discriminatory” quotas for government jobs. These coveted positions, including posts reserved for children of liberation heroes of the Bangladesh Independence movement, have sparked widespread protests across the nation.

Massive participation from major universities

Students from almost all major universities in Bangladesh participated in demonstrations, advocating for a merit-based system for the highly sought-after civil services jobs. “It is a do or die situation for us,” said Nahidul Islam, a protest coordinator, during marches at Dhaka University. The 26-year-old emphasized the need for reform, calling the quota system discriminatory. Critics argue that the quota system disproportionately benefits children of pro-government groups that support Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was Bangladesh’s founding leader. Hasina, who won her fourth consecutive general election in January amid a lack of genuine opposition and a major crackdown on political opponents, has faced accusations of using the courts to rubber-stamp her government’s decisions.  

The current quota system

The current system reserves over half of government job posts, affecting hundreds of thousands of positions. This includes 30% for children of those who fought for Bangladeshi independence in 1971, 10% for women and another 10% set aside for specific districts. Students argue that only quotas for ethnic minorities and disabled people, which account for 6% of jobs, should remain. Bangladesh has seen significant economic growth, averaging over 6% annually since 2009, with per capita income surpassing India’s in 2021. However, this growth, driven largely by the female workforce in the garment export industry, has not alleviated the acute job crisis millions of university graduates face.  

“Students are wasting their time”: PM Hasina

The quota system was initially abolished after weeks of student protests in 2018. However, in June 2024, Dhaka’s High Court invalidated the cancellation, reinstating the quotas. Prime Minister Hasina has condemned the current protests, stating that the court’s verdict has settled the matter. “Students are wasting their time,” she told female activists from her party, according to Bangladeshi newspapers.

Despite the PM’s remarks, the protests have continued to grow. In Chittagong, hundreds of protesters marched, chanting, “We will bury the quota system.” In Dhaka, students disrupted traffic for hours and at Jahangirnagar University, at least 500 students blocked a major highway for almost two hours. Protest leader Bin Yamin Molla claimed that at least 30,000 students participated in the protests, though this number has not been independently verified.      

Mahi Saha
+ posts

Mahi Saha, from Ranchi, reports for Neo Politico.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Nupur Sharma Speaks on “Sar Tan se Juda” Threats, Calls for Dharma Unity in Bhagwat Katha

Next Story

“Padho Bhai”, CJI tells Petitioner on lowering of Cutoff in AIBE

Latest from World