Three leaders of the protests for reduction of quota in public service recruitment were picked up and detained for over an hour on Monday after they issued a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw cases filed against unnamed protesters.
Three joint conveners of the protesting students’ platform Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad – Nurul Haq Noor, Faruk Hossain and Rashed Khan – were picked up by cops at about 1:20pm from the Dhaka University and were released at about 2:30pm.
The protesters brought out a procession from Dhaka University central library at about 4:00pm protesting at the detention of their three leaders. The procession paraded Shahbagh and TSC areas before ending on the library premises.
Ruling Awami League-backed Bangladesh Chhatra League expelled 24 leaders, protesters for quota reform, including Morsheda Khanom who was allegedly tortured by organisation’s Dhaka University’s Sufia Kamal Hall unit president Iffat Jahan Esha for joining protests.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Detective Branch joint commissioner Abdul Baten said, ‘They [the three leaders] were called to DB office for the examination of video footage of the attack on the [Dhaka University] vice-chancellor’s house for investigation and were released after some time.’
Nurul Huq, however, said, ‘Plainclothes police picked up us from in front of Dhaka Medical College hospital emergency gate at about 1:20pm as we were heading for a restaurant for lunch after a press conference.’
He said, ‘Three motorcycles and two microbuses cordoned off our rickshaw and grabbed our collar and waist belt. They gave no identity although we repeatedly sought that. They blindfolded us at Gulistan and after some time we were at Detective Branch office at Minto Road.’
He alleged that police picked up them in order to harass them and spreading fear among the protesters. ‘We are getting death threats and facing harassment,’ Nurul Haq said.
‘Police said that they picked up us as we could be attacked. They also collected our and relatives’ addresses,’ Rashed Khan said.
He alleged that his father was arrested by Jhenaidah police on Monday.
‘Police beat my father, verbally abused him aiming to establish me a [Islami Chhatra] Shibir activist as branded by a Bangla newspaper,’ he said.
Jhenaidah sadar police station officer-in-charge Imdadul Haq denied the allegations and claimed that Rashed’s father Nabai Biswas came to the police station being called by them for some information about his family.
Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad took to the street on April 8 and postponed the protests on April 12, until publication of a gazette notification on prime minister’s announcement of scrapping of quota system.
As the protests intensified with the joining of private university students and even college and in some cases school students, prime minister Sheikh Hasina on April 11 told parliament that there would be no quota system in public service recruitment to avoid repeated movements for its reform.
The protesters have been on the streets since February for five-point demands, including reduction of quota in public service recruitment to 10 per cent from the existing 56, recruitment in vacant posts on the basis of merit if eligible candidates were not found under the quota, an end to special recruitment tests for quota candidates and a single age limit for all jobseekers.
Protesters on April 12, while calling off their protests of scrapping of quota system also demanded unconditional release of arrested protesters, withdrawal of cases filed against them, proper treatment of injured ones and no harassment of protesting students.
Dhaka University authorities and the police filed five cases against unnamed protesters on charge of violence and vandalism at vice-chancellor’s house.
The protesters at a press conference in front of the Dhaka University central library at about 11:40am on Monday issued an ultimatum to the authorities to withdraw all cases in 48 hours or to face fresh protests.
The platform leaders protested at a report carried by Bangla daily Ittefaq that branded Rashed Khan as a Shibir activist and platform convener Hasan Al Mamun as member of the family of a Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporter.
They asked the newspaper to withdraw the report by 5:00pm on Monday terming it false and fabricated and the newspaper at about 4:15pm withdrew the report from its online version and apologised.
Chhatra League on Monday evening expelled 24 leaders and activists, Sufia Kamal Hall unit vice-president Morsheda Khanom who was allegedly tortured by hall unit president Iffat Jahan Esha on April 10 late night for joining protests.
A release signed by Chhatra League president Saifur Rahman and general secretary SM Zakir Hossain announced the expulsion for their alleged involvement in the ‘untoward incident’ at the hall on April 10.
Expelled 24 leaders included Chhatra League literary secretary Khaleda Hossain Moon, Sufia Kamal hall unit vice-presidents Morsheda Khanom, Atika Haq Swarna and Meera, organising secretary Jannati Akter Sumi, joint general secretary Sharmin Akther and assistant secretary Srabani.
Iffat and her fellows allegedly assaulted botany fourth-year student Morsheda, triggering protests at about 12:30am on April 11.
Some recordings went viral heard Iffat using abusive words and threatening fellows for joining protests for reform of quota.
In the records, Iffat also threatened that girls would be kicked out of the dormitory if they joined the protests.
A video clip that went viral showed students putting a ‘garland of shoes’ on Iffat on early April 11.
Chhatra League instantly expelled Iffat and the university authority also expelled her from the hall and the university for torturing fellow students.
Chhatra League on April 13 reinstated Iffat within 48 hours of her expulsion stating that Iffat was found ‘completely innocent.’
In another development, Ashikur Rahman Pallab, Dhaka University public administration fourth-year student who was reportedly shot at during the protests, was transferred to Intensive Care Unit at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Sunday as his condition deteriorated.
Seeking anonymity Ashik’s friends said that Ashik was shot at by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists at midnight on April 8 during a clash between Chhatra League activists and the protestors near Gurdwara Nanak Shahi temple on the campus.
DMCH casualty department doctor Faruk Hossain said Ashik was now out of danger but his leaver and lung were seriously injured as the bullet was still inside his body.
Brushing aside the allegation Chhatra League general secretary SM Zakir Hossain said that he had no idea who opened fire that night but none of their leaders and activists was involved in the incident.
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