04/11/2018, 14.32
BANGLADESH
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Hundreds of students injured in Dhaka in protest over reserved jobs

by Sumon Corraya

In Bangladesh 56 per cent of civil service jobs go to the children and grandchildren of liberation war veterans, women, tribal and disabled people. The current unemployment rate stands at 8 per cent whilst ten million Bangladeshi have left the country seeking their fortune abroad.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of students have been protesting in Dhaka for four days over the country’s civil service quota system, which they deem unfair and unjust.

Students are demanding changes to the quotas of reserved jobs for the children and grandchildren of those who fought in the War of Liberation and other vulnerable groups.

In Bangladesh 56 per cent of civil service jobs are reserved: 30 per cent for children and grandchildren of the country’s "freedom fighters", 10 per cent for women, 10 per cent for districts lagging behind, 5 per cent for ethnic minorities, and 1 per cent for physically challenged people.

For protesters, the quota system affects the unemployment rate, which is currently more than 8 per cent. At least ten million Bangladeshis have left the country in search of work.

Some government websites were hacked overnight. Some homepages were replaced with pages demanding quota reform and a photo from the current protest.

The protests continue in front of the Dhaka University Central Library. They began peacefully but soon degenerated, with clashes between demonstrators and police.

The opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) backs the protests. Conversely, the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, supports police.

"I have applied several times for a government job, but I did not get any,” said one protester speaking to AsiaNews. “I believe the number of reserved jobs must decrease. This is the only way to be blessed with a civil service job.”

"Our protest was peaceful, but the police attacked us,” he added. “The government must understand our pain."

Students from private universities also joined the protest, boycotting classes lessons and exams.

Protesters pledged that they would not disperse until their demands are met, and demanded an apology from Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, who described them a “razakar children". The razakars were an anti-Bangladesh paramilitary force organised by the Pakistani military during the 1971 liberation war.

Meanwhile, some students were responsible for an attack against the residence of the vice chancellor of Dhaka University.

Yesterday, Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the attack.

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