Police have pressed charges against leftist student activists after baton-charging protesters in Dhaka’s Shahbagh against a rise in fuel oil prices.
Palash Saha, sub-inspector at Shahbagh Police Station, started a case on Monday, accusing the student protesters of assaulting police personnel and attempting to incite riots.
Shahbagh Police Station chief Maudut Howlader said police named 21 people, and 20-25 others anonymous people as suspects.
Anik Roy, vice-president of a faction of Bangladesh Students' Union, has been made the prime suspect.
The others include Bangladesh Chhatra Federation President Moshiur Rahman Khan Richard, Biplobi Chhatra Moitri President Sadekul Islam Sohel, Gonotantrik Chhatra Council President Arif Moinuddin, Pahari Chhatra Parishad President Sunayan Chakma, Biplobi Chhatra-Jubo Andolon President Toufika Priya, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front (Marxist) Acting President Joydeep Bhattacharya, and former Samajtantrik Chhatra Front Dhaka University unit president Salman Siddiqui.
After the leftist student organisations launched the protests on Sunday, police used batons to disperse them. The protesters also threw brickbats at police.
The protesters marched on the Dhaka University campus on Monday afternoon against the police attack, claiming that 20 of their activists were injured.
Sadekul Islam Sohel, president of Biplobi Chhatra Moitri, said they strongly condemned the police brutality on the "peaceful" programme. "We will soon announce fresh programmes.”
"Oil prices haven’t increased this much at once anywhere. We see this government is declaring an unofficial war on the public. Prices of all commodities have been rising for a long time. However, the government has no qualms,” he added.
Police claimed the protesters were the first to attack them, leaving two of their personnel injured.
According to the charges, activists of the leftist student organisations tried to block the road while holding a protest rally at the Shahbagh intersection “without permission”. Police asked them not to hamper traffic but the protesters blocked the streets by creating tension with sticks and bricks in their hands, the plaintiff said in the case.
He also alleged that the protesters attacked the law enforcers with sticks, injuring Bayzidur Rahman and Baha Uddin, assistant commissioners of police.
"Later, police baton-charged and dispersed the protesters on instructions from the higher authorities for saving their lives and the safety of the people. Three bamboo sticks of different sizes, seven wooden sticks and 12 pieces of brickbats used by the protesters were seized from the spot.”
Maudut said the suspects were accused of launching a "premeditated attack” on police with sticks, brickbat, and obstructing the duty of the law enforcers with the “intention of murder”, and “creating a riot".