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Saturday, 13 July, 2024

Anti-quota protesters leave streets, will resume blockade on Thursday

Top court issues ‘status quo’ order on quotas, sets Aug 7 for next hearing

The Supreme Court’s Appellate Division has issued a four-week ‘status quo’ order amid a protest movement against quotas in recruitment for government jobs. After making some observations and instructions, the top court said there could be no more talk about the quota system at this point. The Appellate Division will hear the matter again when the full decision by the High Court is published. The next hearing on the matter has been set for Aug 7. After a preliminary hearing on two different petitions, a five-member appellate bench led by Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan issued the decision on Wednesday. “The Appellate Division has issued a status quo order on the subject,” said Attorney General AM Amin Uddin. “As a result, things will remain as they were before the High Court’s decision. Before the decision, the 2018 circular scrapping the quota system was in place. That will be maintained.” The chief justice made three observations and instructions during the hearing. He urged students to return to class and teachers to explain the situation to them and take them back to class. He also noted to the aggrieved that if any student wants to be involved in the case, they can hire a lawyer and join it and their position will also be heard subsequently. The chief justice also said, if necessary, the Appellate Division can revise the judgement of the High Court following Article 104 of the Constitution or form a high-powered committee to deal with the issue. On Oct 4, 2018, in the face of a student movement, the government issued a circular cancelling the 10 percent women quota, the 30 percent freedom fighter quota and the 10 percent district quota for government jobs. According to the circular issued by the Ministry of Public Administration, the existing quota system for direct recruitment to the posts of ninth grade (previously first class) and 10th to 13th grades (previously second class) was scrapped in favour of a merit-based system. However, the circular stated that though the quota system for first and second-class jobs was abolished, the quotas will remain in place for third and fourth-class posts. Seven people, including Wahidul Islam – the son of a freedom fighter - filed a writ petition in the High Court in 2021 challenging the validity of that circular. After the final hearing on Jun 5, the High Court bench of Justice KM Kamrul Kader and Justice Khizir Hayat ruled the decision to scrap the quota system illegal. The state moved the Appellate Division to reverse the decision. The hearing in the Appellate Division was scheduled to be held on Jul 4. However, the Appellate Division upheld the High Court’s judgement for the time being and adjourned the hearing as the petitioner’s lawyer requested for more time from the court. On Tuesday, two students sought permission from the Appellate Division’s Chamber Judge Court to appeal against the High Court verdict. Chamber Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam allowed them to file their affidavits and scheduled the matter to be heard before the regular bench of the Appellate Division on Wednesday. Ever since the High Court’s verdict, job seekers and students have started protesting in several parts of the country, including the capital. Since Jul 1, the students have been protesting under the banner of the ‘Anti-Discrimination Student Movement’, with a four-point list of demands, including the abolition of the quota system. As a part of their ongoing movement, the students blocked the major intersections of Dhaka city on Jul 8 and Jul 9 to carry out the ‘Bangla Blockade’ programme, halting traffic across the city. The protestors also formed a 65-member committee under the banner of the ‘Anti-Discrimination Student Movement’. At a press conference on Tuesday, they reduced their four-point list of demands to a single point. This singular demand is: “The quota system should be reformed by passing a law in parliament to abolish all kinds of unreasonable and discriminatory quotas in all grades and reduce the quota for the marginalised groups mentioned in the Constitution to the minimum level.” The students and job seekers also declared a daylong blockade across Bangladesh for Wednesday. On Wednesday, around 10:30am, the protestors blocked various roads of Dhaka, bringing traffic to a halt and causing suffering for commuters. Besides blocking highways and railways in different parts of the country, the protestors also blocked Dhaka’s Shahbagh intersection, Science Laboratory intersection, Matsya Bhaban intersection, Zero Point, and Mohakhali intersection. Students and job seekers say that, despite a status quo order from the country’s top court, they will continue their protests demanding ‘reasonable’ reforms to quotas for government jobs until parliament passes the law. While the government has called the anti-quota protests ‘irrational,’ several other political parties, including the BNP, are supporting the movement.

Dhaka, Beijing sign 21 instruments, announce 7 projects

Bangladesh and China on Wednesday signed 21 instruments including two renewed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and made announcement of 7 more projects to elevate "comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership" from "strategic partnership" between the two countries. The instruments were inked in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Chinese counterpart Li Qiang after the delegation-level talks between the two countries at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing. Earlier, the Bangladesh prime minister was accorded a red carpet reception as she reached the Great Hall of the People to have a bilateral meeting with her Chinese counterpart Li Qiang. On her arrival at the premises of the Great Hall of the People, the prime minister was received by the Chinese premier. The bilateral talks mainly featured Rohingya issue, business, trade and commerce, investments, bilateral relations alongside various regional and international matters. After the delegation level meeting, the Bangladesh prime minister along with her Chinese counterpart witnessed the exchange of the documents. The instruments on cooperation in the economic and banking sector, trade and investment, digital economy, infrastructure development, assistance in disaster management, construction of 6th and 9th Bangladesh-China friendship bridges, export of agricultural products from Bangladesh and people to people connectivity were signed. Among the instruments, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) Managing Director and Chief Editor Abul Kalam Azad signed a MoU with the China Media Group (CMG) and an Agreement with the Xinhua News Agency. The signed instruments are: 1. The MoU on Strengthening Investment Cooperation in the Digital Economy. 2. The MoU on Banking and Insurance Regulatory between China National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA) and Bangladesh Bank. 3. A Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements Export of Fresh Mangoes from Bangladesh to China. 4. The MoU on Exchange and Cooperation in the field of Economic Development Policy. 5. The MoU on Trade and Investment Cooperation. 6. The MoU on Strengthening Digital Economy Cooperation. 7. Signing of Minutes of Discussions on the Feasibility Study of the China-aid National Emergency Operation Center in Bangladesh Project. 8. Exchange the Letter on the China-aid 6th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge Renovation Project. 9. Exchange the Letters on the Feasibility Study of China-aid Construction of Nateshwar Archaeological Site Park in Bangladesh Project. 10. Exchange the Letters on the China-aid 9th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge Project. 11. The MoU on Strengthening the Cooperation in Medical Care and Public Health. 12. The MoU on Strengthening the Infrastructure Cooperation. 13. The MoU on Cooperation on Green and Low-Carbon Development. 14. Renewing the MoU on Provision of Hydrological Information of the Yaluzangbu/ Brahmaputra River in Flood Season by China to Bangladesh. 15. The MoU between National Radio and Television Administration and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of Bangladesh. 16. The MoU between the China Media Group (CMG) and Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS). 17. The MoU between the China Media Group (CMG) and BTV. 18. An Agreement between the Xinhua News Agency and BSS. 19. An Agreement between the Xinhua News Agency and BTV. 20. Renewing the MoU between the Ministry of Education of China and the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh. 21. The MoU Regarding Public-Private Partnership for Sustainable Infrastructure Development.   7 announced projects are: 1. Announcement of the Conclusion of Joint Feasibility Study on China-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement. 2. Announcing the commencement of negotiation on the Optimization of China-Bangladesh Bilateral Investment Treaty. 3. Announcing the completion of the Modernization of Telecommunication Network for Digital Connectivity project. 4. Announcing the completion of trial run of the Single Point Mooring with Double Pipe Line project. 5. Announcing the commencement of Rajshahi WASA Surface Water Treatment Plant. 6. Signing the MoU between Shandong Agricultural University and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Gazipur. 7. Announcing the construction of Luban Workshop in Bangladesh.
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Anti-quota protesters leave streets, will resume blockade on Thursday

Top court issues ‘status quo’ order on quotas, sets Aug 7 for next hearing

Quota protesters: Movement continues until reforms are implemented

Dhaka, Beijing sign 21 instruments, announce 7 projects

Quota protests cause roadblocks, spell commute chaos in Dhaka again

Dhaka, Beijing sign 21 instruments, announce 7 projects

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Collaboration & cooperation vital to win the battle