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By rahnuma ahmed
“…far from a mere method or an a priori technique to be imposed on all students, education is a political and moral practice that provides the knowledge, skills and social relations that enable students to explore for themselves the possibilities of what it means to be engaged citizens, while expanding and deepening their participation in the promise of a substantive democracy.”
— Henri A Giroux, Lessons to be learned from Paulo Freire, 23 November 2010
Solidarity rally for Viqarunnisa Noon school and college students, central Shaheed Minar, July 15, 2011. From left to right, Ayesha Khanam, professor Delwar Hossain, Zonayed Saki, Mushrefa Mishu, Advocate Habibunnesa, professor Naseem Akhter Hussain, professor Gitiara Nasreen, Ferdousi Priyabhashini, Faizul Hakim Lala, Nur Mohammad, professor Akmal Hossain, professor Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Rahnuma Ahmed and Nurul Kabir observing a one-minute silence to pay their respects to 40 students killed in Mirsarai road accident. Professor Anu Muhammad, and dramatist and actor Mamunur Rashid joined the rally later. The rally ended with songs of resistance sung by Arup Rahee and his band Lila, Amal Akash and Samageet, and Krishnakoli Islam
Forty killed in Mirsarai road accident, July 11. Thirty-nine were schoolboys, aged 11-13, on their way home from a football match. http://tinyurl.com/4xpno3a Unimaginable swathes of grief sweep surrounding villages, engulf the nation. Three day mourning in educational institutions; the truck driver, chatting on his mobile as the truck skidded and plunged into a canal, still eludes arrest. Of humble backgrounds, father is an autorickshaw driver, a rickshaw puller. Dreams have crumbled into a void.
We mourned their deaths at Shaheed Minar last Friday, July 15, as we rallied in support of Viqarunnisa Noon students who are demanding the speedy trial and punishment of the schoolteacher accused of raping a student, who are against the return of Hosne Ara Begum as principal (temporarily replaced) on the grounds that she had suppressed the allegation.
News of more deaths as I write. Six college students beaten to death allegedly by Keblar Char villagers in Aminbazar, Savar, a drug belt. http://tinyurl.com/3d5b45g Media reports indicate villagers mistook them for robbers. The seventh surviving student says they had gone there to try drugs. Just `out of curiosity’ (The Bangladesh Today, July 19, 2011).
The law and order situation has worsened to alarming levels as police forces get largely deployed to contain the discontent of opposition political parties. To contain political dissent, a civic right. To contain student protests, as Viqis, both present and alumni, allege. Threatening phone calls; he claimed to be the officer-in-charge of Ramna thana, an allegation denied (New Age, July 17, 2011). ?Police and Rapid Action Battalion forces were positioned outside Viqarunnisa’s main campus in Baily road, when hundreds of guardians joined students to protest. ?Ex-Viqis have been prevented from entering the campus, threatened with arrest. Lists of alumnis who are blogging and networking on facebook have been prepared by the detective branch, searched out, threatened. If alumni allegations are to be believed, by treason.
I read and re-read the complaint of the Viqarunnisa Noon student, dated July 4. I am a regular student of the Basundhara unit. I attended all coaching classes conducted by my schoolteachers, I wanted to do well in my exams.
I look at her handwriting. Neat, but hesitant. Small letters. Who was with her when she wrote it? Her mother? Her sister? Thoughts race around in my head, the letter must have been drafted before being copied on to blank sheets of paper. How long did it take? How did she feel? How does she feel?
Was her father in the room as well? ?A father normally does not discuss such issues with his daughter’ said a father, as he took part in the human chain held outside Viqarunnisa on July 9. But I went with my daughter. We don’t want this to happen to other girls (New Age, July 10, 2011).
Continue reading “We are with you, Viqarunnisa!”