The deadline for issuing a gazette notification abolishing the quota system in government jobs was over with the demand of the students and jobseekers remaining unmet.
In response, the quota reformists from today would boycott classes and examinations in all universities and colleges across the country for an indefinite period.
“As the government failed to publish the gazette by the given timeframe, we will observe strike sine die and boycott all academic activities at the colleges and universities countrywide,” Nurul Haque Nur, joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, told The Daily Star.
Earlier, the protesters set the deadline to 5:00pm to publish the gazette and threatened to go on an indefinite strike. They made the announcement while talking to reporters at TSC.
They also observed a two-hour strike from 11:00am to 1:00pm at different universities and colleges yesterday by boycotting classes.
In Dhaka University, more than 3,000 protestors -- mostly from DU and other colleges in the capital -- brought out a procession from in front of DU Central Library around 11:30am. The procession ended at Raju Sculpture on the campus after marching different roads including Nilkhet, Dowel Chattar, Shaheed Minar and High Court areas, witnesses said.
The protesters continued their demo during rain and were chanting slogans in favour of their demand. They did not attend the classes, but examinations were held as per schedule.
After the procession Nurul Huq Nur said, “We responded whenever the government called us. We were told that the gazette would be published by May 7, but the students became frustrated as that did not happen.”
Another joint convener Muhammad Rashed Khan alleged that the government did not keep its promise made to them.
“They [government] are staging a drama with us. The students will take to the streets if they do not stop the drama and publish the gazette soon,” Rashed threatened.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has meanwhile said threats of further protests were unrealistic.
He asked the protesters to keep trust on the prime minister's words.
“Sheikh Hasina is the prime minister. She stood before parliament and announced that there would be no quotas. Why are there concerns about publication of the gazette then?”
Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said they were considering the case of ethnic minorities, the disabled, those from less-developed districts, freedom fighters and women. “Besides, the premier was abroad for some time. The initiative has not stopped. The quota will be removed in response to the demand,” he added
The minister asked the protesters to show a little patience. “The situation will be resolved soon,” he added.
As per yesterday's programme, around 500 students at Rajshahi University brought out a procession around noon and paraded different points of the campus. At Jahangirnagar University, around 200 students brought out a procession and at Chittagong University around 150 students formed a human chain at Sholoshohor Railway Station around 11:00am.
The students also condemned the attack on the house of a central committee joint convener, Jashim Uddin Akash, and demanded immediate arrest and punishment of the attackers.
Convener Hasan Al Mamun demanded security of the protesters as well.
Earlier on Wednesday, the protesters threatened to begin demonstrations from Sunday if the government failed to publish the gazette by Thursday.
They announced launching of fresh demonstrations after Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam on May 7 said there was no progress regarding the gazette publication.
Mozammel Haque Khan, senior secretary of the public administration ministry, somewhat repeated the same statement the next day. On Thursday, he said a proposal for forming a committee was sent to the Prime Minister's Office.
Earlier, AL Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak on April 27 met the protesters and assured them that the government would publish the gazette once the prime minister, who was in Australia at the time, returned.
Following the assurance, the leaders of the quota reform movement postponed their agitation until May 7.
In April, students of public and private universities across the country took to the streets with the demand. Police charged truncheons and fired tear gas shells on the demonstrators on DU campus, injuring at least 163.
The protesters blocked key points in the capital and roads and highways elsewhere.
In the wake of mass protests, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament on April 11 declared that the quota system would be scrapped.
In another development, Chhatra League activists allegedly vandalised a bus carrying students of Comilla University yesterday afternoon.
Mazharul Islam Hanif, convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad's Comilla unit, said while the students were leaving the university in the bus around 5:00pm. Some BCL men asked them to get off the vehicle.
As they did not do so, the BCL men vandalised the bus.
The BCL men thought that the students would gather at Kandirpar for quota reform demonstration; that was why they were trying to prevent them from joining, he alleged.
However, Naimul Haque, BCL's joint convener of Comilla city unit, said members of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad threw brick chunks at the BCL men first.
Tanvir Salehin Emon, additional superintendent of Comilla police, told our Comilla correspondent over phone that they were investigating the incident.