|Published : 23 Sep 2016, 22:10:24|
New campus for JnU
The government announcement made early this month to shift the 132-year-old college-turned Jagannath University (JnU) to a sprawling campus in nearby Keraniganj is likely to defuse the volatility of a situation created on a demand of the institution's students and teachers. The newly chosen area, covering 25 bighas, was bought by the government for the university, with plans for acquiring some more lands. A cabinet meeting on September 5 last, with the Prime Minister in the chair, decided to construct a full-fledged university campus in the area, keeping also the old one operating.
The students-teachers' demand centred around bringing the entire campus now in old Dhaka to the now-vacant space of the Dhaka Central Jail. The jail has been shifted to its new venue, also in Keraniganj, across the Buriganga River. The government has long been announcing its plan to transform the vacant jail space into a museum dedicated to the memories of the national leaders, including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who remained imprisoned in the jail for long periods of time. It is this prison, where the four national leaders were killed on November 3, 1975, three months after the assassination of Bangabandhu. These episodes in particular, along with others, add a lot to the historical significance of the old Dhaka Central Jail.
The government plan to set up a museum and a public park at the site was rational in that it could be a fitting tribute to a number of great Bengalee politicians. There is no doubt that the students of Jagannath University (JnU) are fully aware of the place's great historical importance. All concerned would like to believe that it was the severe space constraints at the time-worn university that had led the students to start an agitation to press their demand for shifting the campus to a spacious site. The irony is almost all the dormitories of JnU, previously a major college, have gone to illegal occupiers over the last couple of decades. The suffering students' repeated pleas, prayers and protests have fallen on deaf ears. This discontent snowballed into agitation after the college was given the status of a public university in 2005. At present, JnU has 21,000 students enrolled in it. The Keraniganj campus will have provisions for accommodating 30,000 students. It makes everyone feel relieved that the government has revealed its plan for the university at a time when vested interests were up to manipulating the students' grievances.
A 13-member teachers' delegation had met the education minister on September 04 last, apparently to make an assessment of the overall situation. Such developments look positive. What warrants special mention is that a prelude to a mutually accommodative ground has been created regarding the JnU issue. Along with preserving the relics of a critical episode in the nation's history, ensuring an ideal environment for one of the country's public universities also deserves equal importance. Given the sensitive nature of the issue, both the government and the JnU students and teachers need to adopt a pragmatic attitude towards it. What is expected of the government is that it starts work on constructing the new JnU campus without wasting time.