Police, BCL attack RU protesters
SM Nadim Mahmud, Rajshahi University Correspondent,
Published: 2014-02-02 11:57:25.0 BdST Updated: 2014-02-02 22:36:12.0 BdST
Police and Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists on Sunday attacked Rajshahi University (RU) students, who had been demonstrating since Thursday demanding cancellation of hiked fees and evening courses.
Over 50 students were injured in the attack. Journalists, questioning police's biased role, also faced violence.
The university authorities decided to put on hold the increase in fees, but that failed to pacify the agitating students.
BCL activists and police swooped down on the demonstrators as they agitated for the third consecutive day.
The protesters tried to take cover when attacked by police but the ruling party's student wing activists then swung into action with police standing by.
The demonstrators alleged the BCL university unit president Mizanur Rahman Rana led the attacks, but he denied the allegations.
Rajshahi police's east zone Commissioner Pralay Chichim reacted furiously when asked about police inaction and an altercation ensued.
Several policemen pushed two journalists to the ground and fired blank shots into the air to scare them away.
When asked, Chichim told bdnews24.com: “We acted on orders from the university authorities.”
Vice-Chancellor Prof Mizan Uddin dubbed the attacks as “unexpected incident”. “We are trying to calm the situation," he said when contacted.
Witnesses said police had heated arguments with the demonstrators as they tried to force their way into the Rabindra Arts Building and Shahidullah Arts Building.
Students, chased away by police, regrouped near the administration building.
Several protesters said two homemade bombs were exploded near the building but no one was injured.
Around noon, several handmade bombs exploded when BCL leader Rana and his supporters pounced on the protesters.
Police became active again after the BCL attack, lobbing teargas canisters and firing rubber bullets on the protesters.
Chhatra League activists later took out processions on the campus and allegedly beat up several students.
In a video made available to bdnews24.com, a suspected Chhatra League activist could be seen firing from a pistol.
Police dispersed the agitators again as they tried to regroup in front of the library building around 1pm.
Proctor Tariqul Hasan told the students, "We can rescind the fee hike decision. But the evening courses will not be cancelled.”
Assistant Proctor Sirajul Islam was seen accompanying the police during the crackdown.
Five journalists were injured in the clashes prompting appeals from reporters to withdraw three assistant proctors and the police commissioner.
“We condemn the attack,” said Shakir Ahmed, president of the RU Journalists' Union.
The ongoing demonstrations have forced suspension of all classes and tests.
Anthropology department’s Associate Professor Bakhtiar Ahmed dubbed the attacks on students as “unprecedented”.
“We morally support the students’ demands,” he said.
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