Protests in Bangladesh over quota system in civil services

Over 1,000 students in Bangladesh held a protest demanding scrapping of quota provisions in civil services and allowing recruitment on merit basis.

Dhaka: Over 1,000 students in Bangladesh on Saturday held a protest demanding scrapping of quota provisions in civil services and allowing recruitment on merit basis.

The students of Rajshahi University blocked Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway for some 45 minutes two days after the capital witnessed violent demonstrations against the recruitment system in civil services, police and media reports said.

Over 1,000 protesters demanded the quota provisions be scrapped to allow recruitment on merit basis for the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS), which included the foreign, administration, police and several other technical and non-technical cadres, the reports said.

The students have, however, called off their agitation for the day, saying they would enforce the blockade again tomorrow unless a government announcement comes scrapping the quota system, the reports said.

Students of Jahangirnagar University on the outskirts of the city also staged marches inside the campus on the issue.

Experts and officials have visibly put their weight behind their demands for revision of the system.

The quota system in exams for BCS was introduced under a 1972 constitutional provision to make room for people from relatively backward regions, women and sons and for 1971 Liberation War veterans and their children.

Currently 55 percent of candidates are recruited through quotas while 45 percent are selected according to their merit. Of the 55 percent, the children and grandchildren of 1971 freedom fighters get 30 percent; women 10 percent, ethnic minority groups or tribesmen 5 percent; and those under the district quota get 10 percent of jobs in the civil service.

"Even if there can be quota for some sectors, the percentage should be less than the current one. There should be quota for disadvantaged groups, but it should not be a permanent arrangement," former Cabinet secretary Akbar Ali Khan told a newspaper.

Several hundred protesters on Wednesday rallied at Dhaka`s Shahbagh Square blocking a busy intersection in the capital for more than 11 hours demanding that the results of the 34th BCS preliminary examinations be cancelled as it failed to select the real talents because of the quota system.

Their demonstration forced the PSC to come up with an announcement that would reconsider the results of the BCS preliminary exams.

But the protests continued on the following day several hundred youths clashed with police for hours on the Dhaka University campus and adjoining areas when at least 30 people were injured.


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