Students' protest in Bangladesh nears end after series of violent events sees several journalists injured

Dhaka: Bangladeshi students' non-violent movement that erupted on 29 July following the death of two students in a road accident in Dhaka seems to have come to an end after a series of violent incidents. Thousands of outraged school and college students laid siege to the streets of the National Capital for a week demanding road safety across the country; they've now been dispersed following repeated attacks launched by law-enforcement agencies and the ruling party's student wing for the past few days.

The protesting students in the port city of Chittagong on Sunday afternoon announced that they would go back to classes from Monday following assurances from authorities to meet their demands. The announcement came after a meeting between agitating students and port city deputy commissioner Mohammad Elias Hossain at around 4.30 pm, the DC's office said. "The district administration will try to fulfil the demands of students as many as possible in collaboration with the Chittagong City Corporation and other local administrations. The rest will be forwarded to the government for implementation," Hossain said.

Meanwhile, in Dhaka, the students of Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University and Jagannath University along with some private university students staged a demonstration protesting the government's role regarding road safety of students. The movement was foiled by the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League as they chased the protesters with lethal weapons.

A journalist being beaten by goons during the student protests in Dhaka. Image procured by Greeshma Rai

A journalist being beaten by goons during the student protests in Dhaka. Image procured by Greeshma Rai

Hundreds of armed Chhatra League men ran riot on the streets of Shahbagh Intersection, Mirpur Road and Elephant Road to stop the students' movements from Sunday morning resulting in terror among citizens. On Saturday, agitating students reportedly came under attack by Chhatra League men and law enforcing agencies. More than a hundred protesting students received severe injuries during the attacks around Dhanmondi area. They were later admitted to local hospitals, sources said.

On Sunday, at a programme in the capital's Banani area, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, "Will we kiss them if they attack Awami League's party office?"

He told the media that a vested political quarter with an evil motive was carrying out the wrongdoings by using the children. Obaidul, also road, transport and bridges minister claimed citizens feel very annoyed as a result of the misconduct and called upon all to resist the evil forces.

Journalists under attack

While covering the students' protest, on Sunday in Dhaka, several journalists including an Associated Press photojournalist were attacked and injured reportedly by the armed Chhatra League men in the Science Laboratory area. The incident took place at around 2 pm when a number of journalists and photojournalists were covering the protest in front of Dhaka City College, eyewitnesses and local businessmen said.

"A group of armed and helmeted Chhatra League goons, who were patrolling around the area from morning, launched the attack on journalists in presence of police," a street vendor said seeking anonymity.

"They beat them indiscriminately and broke cameras and other equipment of the journalists," he added.

The injured journalists were identified as AM Ahad of The Associated Press, Ahmed Deepto of Bangla daily Prothom Alo, Palash of Banik Barta, Ibnul Asad Zawad of Janakantha, Rimon of Zuma Press and Rahat Karim, a freelance journalist.

Another group of journalists was attacked at on Dhanmondi Road 2, local media reported. While contacted, Deputy Commissioner (Ramna Zone) Maruf Hossain Sardar said that they were not informed about the incident. "No one has informed us that journalists were under attack. If we had been informed, we would surely have take steps," he told reporters.

Shahidul Alam picked up from home

Noted Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam, also the founder of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute was picked up by unidentified people from his residence on Sunday night. According to a source from Shahidul's photography agency Drik, he was picked up at around 10.30 pm in a car.

While contacted, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's additional deputy commissioner (Ramna Zone) Abdullahel Baki confirmed the matter saying that his family members had informed the police about the incident. "Shahidul is not detained by the police. We know nothing about the incident but are investigating the allegations," he said.

The celebrated photographer also came under attack while taking pictures of the student protests and recently spoke against the Bangladesh government with Qatari news organisation Al Jazeera.


Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 08:02 AM

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