Blasts in front of Dhaka College halt traffic, stores closed

At least a dozen cocktail bombs have been detonated in front of Dhaka College, bringing traffic on either side of the road to a halt.

Published : 20 April 2022, 11:37 AM
Updated : 20 April 2022, 11:55 AM

The explosions came late on Wednesday afternoon as stores began to reopen after a relatively peaceful morning in the New Market area.

Scared pedestrians fled the area, fearing a resurgence of clashes.

Gias Uddin, a police inspector on duty in the area, said: “We heard several explosions and a frightened crowd gathered. We are removing them to prevent further violence.”

Traffic has been halted and the situation is being monitored, he said.

The explosions occurred around 4:40 pm on the Dhaka College campus and outside it. About 50 students were gathered in front of the college at the time. They were seen clapping after the blasts occurred.

A police team with an armoured police carrier, or APC, was deployed on the southwest corner of Chandrima Super Market.

Before the explosions, traffic had returned to normal and a significant number of vehicles were on the road. After eight explosions occurred inside the college gates, there were two more blasts in the middle of the road, which led to disorder.

A few stores in the Dhanmondi Hawkers’ Market across the road had opened earlier while flying white flags. They were closed after the blasts.

Chandrima, New Market and Dhaka New Super Market had not opened, though nearby stores had.

After 5 pm, traffic was closed on either side of the road. All nearby stores were closed as well.

At least 50 people were injured in the clashes that erupted around midnight on Monday and continued until Tuesday. One of them later succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Though initially sparked by a feud between workers at two local stores, it drew in Dhaka College students. Skirmishes between the shopkeepers and students continued throughout Tuesday, blocking traffic and closing stores in the area.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners' Association, said, "We want a proper investigation and punishment for the culprits. There has been a lot of damage but we want to reopen the shops now."

After the press conference, some shops at Gausia, Balaka Bhaban and Chandni Chawk began reopening at 3 pm after being closed for a day and a half. But no stores in New Market opened.

At 5:30 am, Dr Md Abdul Quddus Sikder of the Dhaka College Teachers Council and general secretary of the Seven College Teachers’ Association came to the gates and took the students back inside the campus.

“We will sit with the traders for iftar,” he told journalists in front of Chandrima Super Market. “It wasn’t right for them to announce the reopening of stores without discussing the matter. We will proceed in an orderly manner and we want a peaceful solution.”

Sikder said he could not say who caused the blast.

“I came out after I heard the explosions and brought the students back inside.”

Though traffic was halted on the lane next to Dhaka College, it was moving again on the other side of the road.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher