Jagannath University has appointed 12 leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League as 'special officers' without advsertisement -- a practice which vice chancellor Mijanur Rahman has justified as the natural right of the ruling partymen.
Only a month before extension of his own contract, the VC of the public sector university has in February given the contractual appointments to the BCL leaders despite restriction on such recruitment slapped by the university's regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The university earlier appointed 31 leaders and activists of BCL, the ruling Awami League's student front, authorities admitted. Twenty two of them were hired by the previous vice chancellor, Mezbahuddin Ahmed.
When Prothom Alo asked about the appointment, Mijanur Rahman confidently spoke in favour of it.
“I am bound to appoint the Chhatra League men. They are 12 hard working leaders. Two of them are from Tungipara of Gopalganj. That is their most important identity (meaning qualification),” he said. Tungipara is the home town of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also president of AL.
He went on to say, “There is no such thing as general students or candidates in Jagannath University. Only Chhatra League men will be appointed in the university. This is their special eligibility.”
However, records show, when a recruitment advertisement was published even during Mijanur's tenure, as many as 470 people applied for the posts and only 50 of them were BCL men.
To the credit of this VC, two-thirds of officers in the rank of section officer (grade-1) at the university are now former BCL men.
VC Mijanur Rahman is a former presidium member of Bangladesh Awami Jubo League, the youth front of the ruling party. He resigned from the post after his appointment as VC of Jagannath University in 2013. He was given extension on 20 March this year.
Mijanur Rahman also took part as a councilor in the 20th council session of the ruling AL in last October. He is currently a member of Comilla north district AL.
The 12 BCL men that Mijanur Rahman appointed are: former BCL central committee members Anwar Hossain and Mizanur Rahman, JnU BCL vice president Danesh Mia, entertainment secretary Nurul Huda, education secretary Ashiquzzaman, and BCL leaders Arefin Kawsar, Prashanta Mridha, Abdullah Al Mamun, AKM Kamruzzaman, Ziaur Rahman, and Abdus Salam and Biswajit Mallik.
They are now working at different departments under the registrar's office of the university.
Their appointment letter does not mention the tenure of their contracts, evidence shows.
Speaking with Prothom Alo, five of the appointees said they were supposed to be recruited as section officers back in 2015. They also paid bribes to former BCL president of the university Shariful Islam and former general secretary Sirajul Islam.
Later they were appointed on contract-basis in a hurry as the tenure of the VC as well as university’s BCL committee was about to expire. The VC also assured them that their jobs would be made permanent.
A syndicate member and two other officials of the university, seeking anonymity said, the university authorities published an advertisement to appoint six persons for the post of section officer grade-2 in 2015.
The appointments were scheduled to be confirmed during the 70th syndicate meeting of the university on 3 December 2016.
However the BCL men interrupted the meeting and pressurised the VC and the syndicate to appoint12 people instead of six. The appointments were suspended as the syndicate opposed it.
Meanwhile, the UGC on 20 December issued a moratorium on the recruitment, the restriction which is still in effect.
The three registrar office employees said following the UGC ban, the jobseekers told Shariful and Sirajul to return the money or confirm permanent jobs in the university.
Shariful and Sirajul then pressurised the VC for the appointments. The VC then gave contractual appointments to the 12 on 12 February, as he was threatened to be barred from being appointed as VC for the second term, said informed people.
The university authorities did not publish advertisement nor did they take any permission from the UGC for the appointments. On 18 February, the authorities took written tests in Bangla and English. All of them were given appointment letters though most of the applicants still failed to come out successful in the test.
Sirajul and Shariful admitted that all the recruited people are from BCL, but denied taking any money for the appointments. They said the allegations were baseless.
The appointment letters signed by registrar Wahiduzzaman read that the appointees have to complete the certificate course (acquiring skills in Bangla and English writing) from the organisation within three months of their appointment. Salary would be enhanced if they complete the course on time.
Wahiduzzaman said their salary is based on their knowledge of English and Bangla with skills in computer. Some receive Tk 5,000, some Tk 10,000 and some Tk 15,000, depending on their results. They will get Tk 20,000 per month if they complete the course, he added.
From 2012 till 27 January 2015, the university authorities published recruitment advertisements thrice for the post of section officer, once for grade-1 and twice for grade-2.
According to the university records, former VC Mezbahuddin Ahmed appointed 22 BCL men against nine vacancies for section officer grade-2 in 2012.
Recruitment rules suggest that a grade-2 officer gets promoted to grade-1 after serving two years at least.
However, they were promoted to grade-1 within a year of their appointment during the tenure of Mezbahuddin.
Mijanur Rahman in six months of his appointment published advertisement for appointment of four people for section officer grade-2 and for one as store officer. A total of 470 people applied for the posts including 50 BCL men.
A total of 11 people, including nine BCL men, were recruited for the posts. The other two were selected by the VC. Within a year, those 11 were appointed in six vacancies of section officer grade-1 post.
*The piece originally came up in Prothom Alo print edition is rewritten in English by Saimul Huda