The government on Monday evening formed a committee to review quota system amid protests marred by attacks and intimidation by Bangladesh Chhatra League.
At least 18 protesters were injured as BCL men attacked and beat up the demonstrators on pick and choose basis.
BCL activists unleashed a reign of terror on Dhaka University campus through their repeated attacks on the anti-quota protesters and intimidated them at different places in the campus almost throughout the day.
Witnesses and protesters said the BCL activists threatened and intimidated them even at their homes, dormitories and in some cases at messes in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet and Noakhali, New Age correspondents reported.
Amid protests, the government on the day constituted a seven-member high-level committee, led by cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam, to reform or abolish the quota system.
The committee includes secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, public administration ministry secretary, finance secretary, Public Service Commission chairman and liberation war affairs ministry secretary, the cabinet secretary told New Age.
The committee has been asked to submit a report within 15 working days.
In Chittagong, Rajshahi and Noakhali, they said, the protesters were beaten up by BCL men.
BCL leaders and activists prevented protesters from taking out processions at Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur and in Sylhet Unversity of Science and Technology, New Age correspondents reported.
Political parties and civil society organizations in the capital in separate demonstrations and statements condemned BCL’s attacks and demanded to arrest the attackers and their exemplarily punishments.
A court in Dhaka on Monday sent protesters’ leader Rashed Khan on a five-day police remand in a case filed by a BCL central leader under section 57 of Information and Communication Technology Act.
A group of 20 lawyers of Bangladesh Supreme Court, formed a team to provide legal support to the protesters framed in cases, a press release issued by advocate Abeda Gulrukh said.
On Saturday, BCL men attacked the protesters on the DU campus when they were preparing to hold a press conference to spell out their demands, leaving 15 protesters injured.
The protesters, under the banner of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, were attacked, intimidated and arrested at different places of the country on Sunday when they were holding demonstrations on university campuses in protest against Saturday’s attacks.
On Monday the protesters held demonstrations on campuses in protest against Saturday’s attacks on them and demanding gazette notification abolishing quota in government jobs as the prime minister had announced in Parliament on April 11.
The protesters began the movement demanding quota system reforms in mid-February.
On the DU campus, at least seven protesters were injured in separate attacks by BCL men on Monday.
And at least five of them were injured when they tried to take out a procession carrying the national flag at the central Shaheed Minar and a group of BCL men including BCL general secretary of Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall unit Mehedi Hasan Sunny swooped on them.
The attackers picked up the joint convener of the Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad Faruk Hossain from the spot at around 10:45am.
The protesters said that 15-20 Chhatra League men riding motorbikes beat up female protesters when they tried to protect Faruk from the attackers.
BCL leader Mehedi Hasan Sunny claimed that they dispersed the protesters as they were out to make the campus unstable.
The Chhatra League men later handed over Faruk to Shahbagh police, said BCL men.
Since the morning, hundreds of Chhatra League men on motor bikes roamed through the campus to intimidate the protesters.
Some BCL men were seen frisking bags and checking mobile phones of students on suspicion that they were anti quota protesters.
The BCL men also beat up a female protester near the central Shaheed Minar around 12:00pm witnesses and protesters alleged.
The teachers and students of the DU English Department formed a human chain at the base of Aparajeyo Bangla in protest against the attack on MA class student Nurul Huq Nur who is the joint-convener of the Parishad.
A number of BCL leaders and activists were seen trying to obstruct the human chain formation while some were intimidating students who had joined the demonstration.
A group of over 50 BCL men in motorbikes entered Dhaka Medical College Hospital premises around 1:00pm while visitors and patients became terrified, witnesses alleged.
The Shahbagh police station officer-in-charge Abul Hasan remained unavailable at his office and also on the phone since the midday for his comments could not be taken despite repeated attempts.
Meanwhile, family members of Nurul Huq Nur, who was mercilessly beaten up by BCL men on Saturday, told reporters that Anwar Khan Modern Medical College Hospital, where Nur was admitted forcibly released him at night and asked him to take treatment elsewhere.
Talking to New Age, Saimum Sabuj, customer care officer of the hospital denied the allegation and said that Nur was discharged as per doctors’ instructions.
DU proctor Golam Rabbani on Monday noon said that he had no idea about the attacks and they would take action ‘if anyone files complaints.’
On Jahangirnagar University campus, BCL men picked up a leader of quota protesters and foiled their procession carrying the national flag on Monday.
Around 11:00 am, Some 20 to 30 BCL leaders and activists took position in front of the central library lead by JU BCL vice-president Mamunur Rashid.
Later, BCL men ‘picked up’ the convener from inside the library and another leader Rajib was slapped by BCL men while they tried to bring out a flag procession and snatched their national flags and forced them to leave the spot.
Earlier, over 100 BCL men on motorbikes gathered at different spots on the campus and staged showdown creating panic across the campus.
Mamunur, however, denied the allegation but said ‘some people were trying to create unrest on campus ahead of the national election, and the BCL resisted the attempt.
Abu Sayed, coordinator of the JU unit of the reformists’ platform, said, “BCL men foiled our peaceful gathering.”
New Age correspondent in Chittagong, quoting the Parishad’s Chittagong University unit convener Md Anwar Hossain and witnesses, reported that the BCL activists attacked and beat up the protesters when they gathered at Finley Square in the city.
The Chittagong district BCL general secretary Nurul Azim Rony could not be reached for comments after several attempts.
At Rajshahi University, BCL leaders and activists chased the quota protesters while they were heading toward to the Rajshahi University main entrance with flag procession from Binodpur at 4:15pm.
BCL men beat up Tariqul Islam Tareq, joint-convener of RU unit of Parishad, with iron hammer, rod, machete, and sticks, causing severe injuries to his head, legs, hands, neck and back.
Masud Monnaf, RU unit convener of the Parishad, told New Age that at least ten leaders and activists of the Parishad were injured in the attack.
However, BCL RU unit general secretary Faisal Ahmed Runu denied the allegation of beating and said that they only resisted those who were trying to make the campus unrest.
Our Court Correspondent reported that Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Raihanul Islam sent Rashed on five-day police remand after sub-inspector Rakibuzzaman of the Police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crimes Unit produced him in the court to take him into custody for interrogations.
The court also rejected Rashed’s bail petition filed by his lawyers Jaidur Rahman Zahid and Md Nuruzzaman.
BCL law affairs secretary Al Nahian Khan Joy filed the case with Shahbagh Police Station yesterday on charge of making derogatory statements about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Rashed was arrested a the capital’s Bhasantek area around 12:30pm on Sunday by detectives.
Rashed’s father Nabai Biswas told New Age that before his arrest, 15 to 20 BCL men went to his house by motorcycles and threatened him to handover his son to them
Communist Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh and Transparency International Bangladesh in separate statements condemned BCL attacks on the protesters and inaction of police during the attacks. They also demanded arrest of and exemplary punishment for the attackers.
A group of civil society members under the banner of Nagarik Samaj O Udbigna Abhibhabakbrinda in a human chain in front of the National Press Club condemned the attack.
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