Education Minister Dipu Moni has urged the protesting students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) to withdraw their hunger strike and sit for talks to address the standoff.
As the minister made the call on Saturday, at least 16 hunger strikers have been hospitalised.
Since 19 January, 24 students have been on a hunger strike demanding the resignation of the university vice-chancellor (VC) Farid Uddin Ahmed.
"Solution can only come through discussion. We will arrange everything if the students come to Dhaka for discussion or I will send a team from the ministry," she said during a press brief after meeting with teachers' representatives of Sust at the minister's residence in the capital.
The teachers' delegation, headed by the President of the Sust Teachers' Association Professor Tulsi Kumar Das, comprised the Dean of the Faculty of Physical Science Prof Rashed Talukder, General Secretary of the Teachers Association Prof Muhibul Alam, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science Prof Ariful Islam, and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce Khairul Islam Rubel.
The minister also hinted at possible intervention from outsiders to divert the movement to another way, saying that the students wanted to come to Dhaka for discussion, but the next moment they showed reluctance for unknown reasons.
"It is regrettable that students were attacked by police and there were also reports of teachers being assaulted," she said before adding, "We need inquiry into all the incidents. We have to take decisions through discussion."
Stressing further the need for talks, the minister said, "Sust has gained reputation in research and other academic activities over the last four years under the leadership of the Incumbent VC. People can make mistakes but discussion is imperative to solve any standoff."
University Grant Commission Chairman Dr Kazi Shahidulla was present in the press conference.
Of the 24 students who went on a hunger strike demanding the resignation of the VC, 16 have been hospitalised until the filing of this report while seven others re still on hunger strike in front of the VC's office. They were given intravenous fluids as students of the university brought out processions wearing burial shrouds on Saturday.
Even though the indefinite hunger strike by 24 students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Sust) rolled into day four, there has been no headway in breaking the 10-day standoff, complained the students, adding, that is why they brought out a silent procession.
Mohaiminul Bashar, one of the protesting students said, "We want the vice-chancellor to resign and we have no plans to back down from our movement."
Responding to the education minister's call for holding talks, the students, said they could not possibly leave their brothers-in-arms in such a vulnerable position at this time.
Later, Dipu Moni offered to talk to the students through video conferencing and even proposed to visit Sust in person.
Earlier on 19 January, some 24 students went on a hunger strike demanding the resignation of the VC. Before that, students began protests to demand the resignation of the Provost of the Begum Sirajunnesa Chowdhury Hall Zafrin Ahmed Liza after she allegedly 'misbehaved' with a student.
Though she was eventually removed, students have continued their campaign to press for the resignation of the vice-chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed after police used batons and tear shells and fired shots to break up a protest.