There has been a patch of nasty bothersome 'weather' in Bangladesh recently. A minor incident between the army and some students at a Dhaka university football match has escalated and escalated so that a curfew has been called to calm things down. The forces, educational and media institutions need to be held responsible when the dust settles and some learning enacted.
In early Islamic History, we learn of the Prophet(pbuh), the Sahaba, the Tabi'in and the Tabi Tabi'in, the Shaheed and the four Caliphs. It is rather odd how their symbolism has been employed and mapped onto recent history in Bangladesh. I am not sure why this link did not occur to me before, as it was probably somebody's intention to create the link in the public imagination.
We have the four Caliphs, the lieutenants of Sheikh Mujib(well actually a couple of sets of them but that's a footnote), we have the Sahaba( 'the companions' of Dhaka University who so bravely gave us liberty), we have the Shaheed, and then there is the most insane part. We have the Tabi'in (the teachers of Dhaka Uni) and Tabi' Tabi'in (students of Dhaka Uni) occupying an angelic position in the society, beyond fundamental criticism.
They are seen as successors to the founders. Their institution, which does not rank anywhere globally, is constantly patronised by forces that have run the country into the ground and really buggered up both the institution's credibility and the ceiling for nationally generated scholarship.
So when some amongst this illustrious community do wrong, the goldfish in the bowl do not hesitate to accuse the other party of all wrong doing. The taxpayers (yes there are some!) work their tails off to fund this institution, and a lot of the students strive hard to get so far. But our spiritual, social and intellectual environment seems unable to draw the best out of them. In fact it turns them rotten, I do not know when the poisoning started, but to break through the ice, the semi theological veneer needs peeling. Character development is a goal that needs to be pushed more firmly i feel, through emphasis on +ve extracurricular activities. Anyway, here is a fiddle and paste from a book on Nawab Salimullah by Al-Haj Md Sirajuddin (Dhaka, 1992).
Dhaka University's founding objective was the educational advancement of East Bengal. Nawab Salimullah wanted to work towards 'our future university, which will be even an more unique and splendid, constructive work than the Aligarh College which will have no equal in India'. Thwarted in 1911, but consented to in 1912 Dhaka university was announced as a compensation to the Muslims of the area for the annulment of the partition of Bengal. Muslims didn't accept it as compensation, more as a stepping stone to higher education for Muslim boys.
AK Fazlul Huq said 'I was very closely and actively associated with all the plans and schemes and I know the difficulties which we Muslims had to face and the obstinate opposition we had to overcome at the time in pushing the scheme for the establishment of Dhaka University'
A few weeks after the announcement a team under the deputation of Sir Rasbehari Ghosh of Burdawan protested to the Viceroy, that a separate university in Dhaka would amount to an internal partition of Bengal, and that the Muslims of Bengal were mainly cultivators of land and would in no way benefit from this institution.
Nawab Salimullah responded "One distinguished leader calls this University the 'apple of discord' and the opponents of the scheme pretend to see in it's inauguration a clever linguistic partition of the Bengalis, quite as previous as the administrative partition. Now I am very sorry that our Bengali friends should scent danger where none exists and oppose the scheme in a way which is sure to set the two communities against each other ... No doubt, any benefit to East Bengal necessarily means a benefit to that section of the population, numbering 20 millions, who happen to be Musalmans but this is a contingency which cannot be avoided. We cannot cease to be a part and parcel of the population of that part of the country simply to please the fancy of a set of politicians who would eternally penalise the whole of Eastern Bengal for the sin of having harboured so large a Muslim majority."