Scores injured as police, pro-AL activists attack protesters

Organisations, journalists, citizens continue to protest against attacks

Tapos Kanti Das and Rashad Ahamad | Published: 01:10, Aug 07,2018 | Updated: 01:20, Aug 07,2018

 
 

Cops disperse Dhaka University students as they tried to block roads demanding safe roads at Shahbagh in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

Scores were injured as police and pro-Awami League activists attacked students of different universities who were protesting for road safety at places in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh on Monday, the ninth straight day of the protests initiated by school and college students.
Police and AL and its associate body Bangladesh Chhatra Legaue and Juba League activists attacked East West University
students at Rampura at about noon, Dhaka University students at Shahbagh at about 3:00pm and North South University students on Progati Sarani in Bashundhara intersection at about 2:00pm.
Police also foiled a human chain organised by a group of architects extending solidarity with the student protests against transport sector anarchy and for road safety.
Teenage students of schools and colleges, who in their thousands took to the streets in Dhaka and elsewhere for eight days for road safety, were hardly seen on roads on Monday, rather huge cops were seen at the major points.
Presence in schools and colleges in Dhaka was thin on Monday as parents from different corners in Dhaka said that they did not allow their children to go to schools considering their security.
At Rampura, protesting students, mostly from East West University, said they took position on DIT Road at Rampura bridge point for the ninth consecutive day on Monday at about 10:00am and Chharta League, Juba League and other pro-AL activists tried to attack them soon they started their regular programme of checking driving licence and registration of vehicles.
The protesters chased away the pro-AL activists, said witnesses.
At about noon, pro-AL activists and police attacked the protesters and cops fired teargas shells and charged baton on students. The protesting students threw brick bats and stones to the police and the attackers.
Later, the protesters took shelter at the nearby East West University at Jahurul Islam City of Aftabnagar, closed the main gate of the campus when the police fired teargas shells on the campus and the pro-AL activists threw brick bats targeting the university building and students, the witnesses said.
The protesters said that at least 30 students were injured during the violence.
At about 4:15pm, East West University trustee board chairperson Mohammed Farashuddin told reporters on the campus that ‘some student’ of his university were injured in attack by ‘outsiders’ though the students had no stick in their hands.
He said that some glasses of the university building broke during the attacks.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Badda zone additional deputy commissioner Ahmed Humayun claimed that the university students clashed with outsiders and cops brought the situation under control.
Badda police station inspector (investigation) Abul Kalam Azad said that nine cops were injured and they detained 15 students from Aftabnagar for interrogation.
The East West University, in a notice signed by its acting registrar Mashfiqur Rahman, in the evening announced closure of the university for Tuesday and Wednesday.
In Basundhara Residential Area, at least 50 people, mostly university students, were injured as the area turned into a battle field when the protesting students were attacked by the police and pro-AL activists in between 2:30pm and 5:30pm, witnesses said.
As the news of attacks on East West University students spread, hundreds of students of North South University and Independent University Bangladesh and other nearby educational institutions gathered on Progati Sarani at the main entrance of Bashundhara Residential Area at about 2:00pm to protest against the attacks.
About half an hour later, a group of youths wielding bamboo sticks, sharp weapons and iron rods and chanting pro-AL slogans, along with cops, swooped on the students. The students also threw brick bats to the attackers, witnesses said.
They said that within moments the students were seen to rush back to the campuses while many others took shelter at nearby lanes and houses.
Some were seen bleeding and rushing to nearby hospitals, the witnesses said.
Sometimes later, police began to fire teargas shells indiscriminately on the protesting students who threw brick bats to the police. The attackers also beat the students wherever they found them, the witnesses said.
They alleged that the passersby also came under attack.
Armoured cars were seen in front of the Bashundhara Residential Area gate and the cops allowed none to enter the area.
The students, meanwhile, blocked roads and demonstrated burning tyres on the roads in the residential area until 5:00pm, witnesses said.
Students alleged that cops fired rubber bullets on them when attackers were beating them.
Most of the injured were given treatment at Apollo Hospital at Basundhara.
A duty manager of Apollo Hospital who gave his single name, Masum, said they provided treatment to all who came to the hospital but denied to give the number.
‘It was a horrific situation. The chase and counter chase began sometimes after 2:15pm. I could hear the chaos. Sounds of lobbing indiscriminate tear shells could be heard and the violence spread throughout Basundhara road. I could see many injured students rushing to hospital with their friends,’ a female English medium schoolteacher said.
Bhatara police station officer-in-charge SM Kamruzzaman said that they picked up seven people from Basundhara area for interrogation and seven cops, including him, were injured.
Independent University, Bangladesh registrar Anwarul Islam in a notice in the evening announced that ‘the university will remain closed until further order.’
At Shahbagh, police fired teargas shells, charged batons and used water cannons on a procession of Dhaka University students who were protesting against attacks on students.
Shahnaj Parvin Jonaki, a master’s student of the Institute of Education and Research, at the rally announced student strike at Dhaka University for Tuesday protesting against the attacks on students on Saturday and Sunday.
About 500 students from Dhaka University, including leftist student organisations brought out a procession on the campus at about 12:30pm from Raju Memorial Sculpture near TSC, paraded important streets at Dhaka University and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and then marched towards Shahbagh intersection at about 3:00pm. Police obstructed them near the National Museum.
As the procession headed towards Shabagh, police charged batons, fired teargas shells and used water cannon to disperse them. Police picked up three students from the spot.
Maruf Hossain Sardar, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna zone), said, ‘Police dispersed protesters at Shahbagh as they threw brick-bats targeting cops. Then police went on action. Some protesters were also detained.’
Chhatra League activists also brought out a procession from Shahbagh towards TSC at the same time when the students’ rally was moving towards Shahbagh.
Students of DU business faculty formed human chain protesting recent attacks on protesters.
Pragatishil Chattra Jote brought out a procession on the campus in the evening protesting against the attacks.
The registrars of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh and United International University in separate notices announced closure of classes for Tuesday.
BRAC University registrar retired Lieutenant Colonel Foyzul Islam in a notice extended the university’s ongoing leave for one day, Tuesday.
At Kalabagan, about 100 architects and urban planners, members of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh, gathered on Mirpur Road near Kalabagan playground in the morning carrying a banner that read ‘Santander Pashe Amra Sthapatira’.
As the human chain began, police rushed there and forced the protesters to end the programme in five minutes. Police also picked up some of the participants.
New Age Staff Correspondent in Chittagong reported that police along with Chattra league activists dispersed protesting students Monday morning when they tried to form a human chain in front of Chittagong Press Club. Police picked up at least nine students.
Kotowali police station inspector Jahidul Islam said that the students were picked up for their security.
Jahangirnagar University students protested at the attack on the demonstrating students boycotting classes and examinations for Monday, reported JU correspondent.
The protesting students alleged that their pre-scheduled ‘March to Dhaka’ was foiled by Chhatra League activists and the university authority.
Later, about 400 students of different departments brought out a procession from the Central Shaheed Minar premises and blocked Dhaka-Aricha highway for half an hour from 4:00pm.
They also demanded the resignation of shipping minister Sahjahan Khan.
In Khulna, protesting students of Khulna University were barred by the police to take position on Khulna-Satkhira highway in the morning.
Commuters in Dhaka suffered immensely as there were a few public buses on city roads despite transport owners’ announcement for running buses from Monday. Thousands of people were seen walking to reach their destination while some others opted for rickshaws and CNG-run auto rickshaws.
Students of schools and colleges took to the streets on July 29, when two of their fellows were killed as a bus, racing two others, ploughed through a crowd of students and others waiting for bus at Kurmitola in Dhaka. The protesters raised nine-point demands, including justice for the deceased, apology of shipping minister Shajahan Khan and safe roads.
Rights organisations, Ain O Salish Kendra and Human Rights Forum Bangladesh in separate statements demanded an immediate end to the attacks and repressions on the students for raising their voice for road safety.
The Democratic Left Alliance held a rally in front of the National Press Club condemning the attack and demanding justice and removal of shipping minister Shahjahan Khan for his role in transport sector anarchy.
Communist Party of Bangladesh, National Committee against Fascism and Imperialism, Bangladesh Students’ Union and Samajtantrik Chhatra Front in separate statements condemned the attack and demanded bringing the attackers to book immediately.

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