Activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League beat up five journalists covering the Dhaka University when they were trying to gather information about alleged extortion by the student front leaders.
The Chhatra League is the student affiliate of the ruling Awami League.
The university authorities have identified 21 BCL activists involved with the assault and handed over six of them to the police.
Students of the Jagannath and SM Hall of the Dhaka University said up to 12 activists of the ruling party had been extorting money from vehicles on the Fuller Road from Saturday midnight to celebrate Pahela Boishakh.
Several journalists went to the spot at around 4am to check this out and found Chhatra League activists trying to stop a motorcycle.
As the journalists inquired about their identity, the extortionists said they were from the Chhatra League's SM Hall unit of Dhaka University.
One of them, identified as ‘Asif’, is a second year student of the university’s Mass Communication and Journalism department.
Prothom Alo’s university’s correspondent Ahmed Zaif talked Asif out of the pack, but other activists tried to take him away.
Several Chhatra League activists indiscriminately beat up Zaif, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha’s university correspondent Moloy Kumar Dutta, journalism department's Dulal Samaddar, bdnews24.com’s Sujon Mondol and Daily Star’s Protik Chakrabarty.
They also attacked Prothom Alo’s senior correspondent Shariful Hasan as he tried to mediate.
The activists brought out sticks from the nearby SM Hall and beat up the journalists a second time.
Dhaka University Proctor Amzad Ali, BCL’s university unit President Mehedi Hasan and General Secretary Omar Sharif came to the spot and identified six residents of the SM Hall as responsible for the assault on the scribes.
They have been identified as ‘Shamim’ (English Department), ‘Oitijhya’ (History), Asif Uddin Ahmed (Journalism), ‘Tanvir’ (Finance), ‘Murad’ (Finance), and ‘Tapas’.
All of them are second year students.
But they claim that they were merely taking ‘tips’ from motorists ahead of the Pahela Boishakh and blamed the assault on the journalists on "others".
Fifteen other students of SM Hall have been identified with the extortion.
Proctor Ali said the journalists were attacked as they protested against the extortion.
“Firm steps will be taken against those responsible for the assault on the journalists,” he said.
The university’s Chhatra League President said the incident was ‘unfortunate and deserved condemnation'.
He said those responsible for it will be permanently expelled from Chhatra League.