At least six protesters for reform of quota in public service recruitment continued languishing in jail and they were tortured in police custody, said thir fellows, families and lawyers.
Some protesters are getting treatment at hospitals and home for injuries they sustained in attacks on them, protesters said.
Frightened protesters continued protests for the release of their detained leaders and immediate solution to ‘disparity’ in the quota system.
They said that they were still in fear of arrest and many of them were forced to leave Dhaka University dormitories.
Quota reform protesters said that six of their leaders – Rashed Khan, Moshiur Rahman, Faruj Ahmed and Tarek Adnan of Dhaka University, Muhammad Jashim of Chittagong University and Muhammad Suhel Islam of Jagannath University – were arrested in early July and were now detained in prisons in cases filed in early April.
‘We want our detained friends to be released immediate and we want to sit with prime minister Sheikh Hasina to share our views on importance of solving discrimination in the quota system,’ said Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad joint convener Binyamin Mollah.
The Parishad, the platform of the protesting students and jobseekers, at a press conference on the pavement in front of National Press Club in Dhaka on Friday also demanded an immediate end to harassment of the protesters.
Jyotirmoy Barua, one of the lawyers providing legal aid to the detained protesters, said that he along with other lawyers visited three of the detained protesters.
He said that although they wanted to meet all of them, jail authorities allowed them to meet the three – Rased, Faruk and Tarek.
‘We have got important information and based on what we will go ahead,’ said Jyotirmoy, adding that they were given enough time to discuss legal issues with the detained leaders.
Dhaka Central Jail jailor Mahabubul Islam Milon, however, denied the allegation, claiming that they were given enough time.
He alleged that the detained protesters were beaten in police custody. ‘The official who beat one of the protesters was not the investigation officer,’ he added.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Detective Branch additional deputy commissioner Rajib Al Masud denied the allegation.
Another detective official said that two more Dhaka University students –Saidur Rahman and Atikur Rahman – were arrested recently being identified from CCTV footage of April 8 when the Dhaka University’s vice-chancellor’s house came under attack.
‘The two are not with us,’ said Binyamin Mollah.
Investigators said that four more people, not Dhaka University students, were also arrested in connection with the attack on the vice-chancellor’s house.
Quota reform movement joint convener Tariqul Islam is under treatment at a Dhaka hospital for grievous injuries he sustained when ruling Awami League’s student body Bangladesh Chhatra League activists attacked him with knives, sticks and hammers in July.
‘We want justice for the attacks on us,’ said Binyamin.
Rights organisation Odhikar, in its report on August 1, said that the university authorities took sides with criminals instead of taking action against the attacks on protesting students and assaults on teachers.
The families of the detained protesters continued campaigns for their release.
Rashed’s mother Saleha Begum at a rally in front of the national press club on Friday said, ‘We are approaching door to door for their release.’
She urged the prime minister, ‘Release all of them as they committed no crimes, rather they wanted their jobs only.’
On different occasions, she said that the future of the detained students was apparently dark.
Moshiur Rahman’s father Mujibur Rahman said that he was a rickshaw-puller and did not know what the crime of his sons was.
On July 31, students rallying for reform of quota system again took to the streets for three-point demands, including unconditional release of the detained and punishment of those who attacked protesters.
They also demanded immediate publication of a gazette notification reducing the quota in public service recruitment to 10 per cent from the existing 56 per cent.
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