Protests have flared at Rajshahi University over the reported attacks on students by locals and policemen following an altercation with transport workers.
A tense atmosphere pervaded Rajshahi’s Binodpur market and nearby areas after Saturday’s arson attacks during the clashes between Rajshahi University students and locals.
On Sunday, students began protesting outside the vice-chancellor's residence to demand justice and a proper investigation into the incident.
They also called on the authorities to arrange residential facilities for every student.
Earlier, the protestors padlocked the university’s Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam Administration Building before marching in a procession to the VC’s residence.
Hafizur Rahman, the chief of Motihar Police Station, said law enforcers, including high-ranking officers, were patrolling the campus after the clashes on Saturday. The situation normalised after the students returned to their residential halls at 2 am on Sunday.
The OC said police have blocked the Rajshahi-Dhaka Highway from Talaimari to Chouddopai. Traffic remains suspended on the highway although the authorities have been allowing light vehicles to use the road. Dhaka-bound buses have been instructed to travel on the by-pass roads.
The situation is now under the control, Commissioner Md Anisur Rahman of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police said after visiting the area on Sunday morning. No case has been filed in connection with the clashes yet, he added.
Assailants torched around 30 shops next to the Binodpur gate of the university after the clashes erupted, according to Shahidul Islam Shahid, president of the Binodpur Commerce Association. A police box and a motorcycle were also burnt at the gate.
The university suspended classes and exams for two days in the wake of the incident, Vice-Chancellor Prof Golam Shabbir Sattar said.
The clashes erupted in the evening on the Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway near Binodpur Bazar and gradually spread to the surrounding area, said Abdus Salam, chief of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police's Detective Branch.
Fire Service and Civil Defence personnel brought the fires at the shops and the police box under control.
According to students and locals, Alamin Akash, a sociology student at RU, got into a row with workers of the bus company, Mohammad Paribahan, while travelling to Rajshahi from Bogura.
Upon arriving at the university's Binodpur gate, the student continued to argue with the transport workers.
A local shopkeeper intervened and became embroiled in an altercation with students gathered at the Binodpur gate after the bus stopped. The situation escalated to a brawl, witnesses said.
Later on Saturday, students from the university's sociology department gathered at the scene and attacked local shopkeepers. In response, locals launched a counter-attack, leading to violent clashes.
The students also blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway as both sides started hurling brickbats at each other.
Over 150 people were brought to the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital after the clashes, Jahidul Islam, a doctor at the hospital's emergency department, said on Saturday.
“Among them, 47 have been admitted to the hospital, three of whom are in critical condition."
Meanwhile, Prof Dr Sultan-Ul-Islam, the pro-vice-chancellor of the university, said more than 200 students were injured.
The clashes and arson attacks stemmed from a 'trivial matter', according to Abdus Salam, an officer of RMP's Detective Branch.