August 8, 2018
Students in Bangladesh have been arrested and charged after protesting the road death of two of their peers.
Leaving out the alleged ruling party men involved in attacks on road safety demonstrators and journalists, police have made students accused in cases filed over the last few days’ violence in the capital.
The complainants in all the 29 cases filed with 16 police stations mentioned that the attackers were unknown students, many of whom were in school and college uniforms.
The case documents also state that some of the attackers were unidentified youths believed to be the infiltrators into the student movement sparked by the killing of two of their peers in a road crash on July 29.
This correspondent went through some of the case statements and talked to police officials in this regard.
Asked why they did not sue anyone belonging to the Awami League or its front organisations, a senior official of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, wishing anonymity, said, “Does any officer has the guts to file a case against ruling party activists unless a political decision comes to that end?”
Twenty-seven cases have been filed against several thousand unidentified students and youths for assaulting police, damaging government property and obstructing law enforcers from discharging duties.
Two other cases were filed by an AL leader for attacking the party president’s office in Dhanmondi.
Alleged pro-AL men aided by police had pounced on demonstrators, prompting students to turn violent in some places including Jhigatola, Dhanmondi, Science Lab intersection, Uttara and Mirpur.
Many of them were in helmets and some carrying machetes. Some others were firing gunshots during running battles with the students.
Besides, journalists covering the incidents and passersby were also beaten up.
Take the incident at Jhigatola on August 4.
Around 1:30pm, a group of pro-AL activists allegedly attacked some students who were checking papers and licences of vehicles in Jhigatola as part of their road safety campaign.
The students took the injured to nearby hospitals while some others informed it to their peers who were staging protests at Science Lab intersection.
Several hundred students with brick chips picked from an under-construction building marched towards Jhigatola. They came under attack by armed men but retaliated by throwing stones.
They also threw brickbats at the AL president’s office.
As a fierce battle ensued, at least 150 people including journalists and pedestrians were wounded. Rumours of death and sexual harassment had aggravated the situation.
Amid chase and counter chase, a red-shirted young man with helmet was seen brandishing a pistol and firing shots.
During the violence next day, ruling party men, mostly BCL activists, equipped with iron rods, sticks, machetes came out of the AL office. They caught several persons passing by and beat them up, thinking them to be protesters.
The first attack was carried out on August 2. It was on students in Mirpur by alleged ruling party men, many of whom had their faces covered or wore helmets.
The students were stopping vehicles to check licence and registration papers in front of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority office in the afternoon. The attack came after police tried to disperse them, witnessed said.
Over the incidents of violence, 29 cases have been filed under the Penal Code and 41 people, including 22 students of private universities, arrested.
Police also filed five cases under the ICT Act and arrested six, said Md Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of DMP yesterday.
According to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, at least 317 vehicles were vandalised and eight others were torched during the student protests that began after the July 29 crash.
Besides, a police official was attacked while brick chips were thrown at Rajarbagh Police Lines, Kafrul Police Station and some other police establishments, he told reporters earlier.
After days of violence, normalcy returned in the city yesterday. There was no violence or road blockade in any university or elsewhere. The number of vehicles, particularly passenger buses, was relatively low on the streets.
Police freed 37 students, detained during the protests on Monday, and handed them over to parents yesterday.
Mohammad Rasheduzzaman, inspector (investigation) of Tejgaon Industrial Police Station, said, “We have released the students on bonds after guardians came to the police station for their release.”
Besides, Shahbagh police released three Dhaka University students nine hours after a group of BCL activists handed them over to the law enforcers amid demonstrations.
Early yesterday, some BCL men of Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall of DU beat up Tariqul Islam of mathematics department, Mashiur Rahman Sadik of ICT and Zobaidul Haque Rony of physics, alleging that the three spread rumours on Facebook.
Rony is an activist of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front while the two others appear to have no political affiliations.
BCL men called them to the dormitory’s guestroom, quizzed them over their Facebook posts and beat them up before handing them over to police, students alleged.
22 STUDENTS REMANDED
A Dhaka court yesterday placed 22 private university students on a two-day remand in two separate cases filed over vandalism and attacks on police.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Abdullah Al Masud gave the order after officials of Badda and Bhatara police stations produced the arrestees before the court with seven days’ remand prayer.
The arrestees are students of East West University, North South University, South East University and Brac University.
Their lawyers said in the court that the detainees were tortured in police custody. Some of the students were arrested while they were returning home after classes.
Police rejected the allegations.