Rajshahi University students block rail tracks with fire over clashes with locals

A group of students use large replicas of animals or flowers dragged from the Faculty of Fine Arts to light the fire

Rajshahi Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 12 March 2023, 08:14 PM
Updated : 12 March 2023, 08:14 PM

A group of students of Rajshahi University have blocked the railway near the campus, leaving several trains stranded after daylong protests demanding justice over violent clashes with locals.

They lit a fire on the tracks near the Faculty of Fine Arts around 7:30pm on Sunday, a day after the clashes, said Hafizur Rahman, chief of Motihar Police Station.

Journalists at the site said the protesters dragged large replicas of animals or flowers that are used in processions during celebrations from the Faculty of Fine Arts to light the fire.

Hafizur said he was unaware of things from the faculty being used to light the fire.

Rajshahi Railway Station’s Manager Abdul Kariym said the students put tree trunks and burnt them at two points on the tracks.

Four Rajshahi-bound trains were stopped outside the city due to the blockade, he said. The stranded trains are Madhumati Express from Goalanda, Sagardari Arani and Mohananda from Khulna, and Titumir from Chilahati.

Banglabandha Express to Panchagarh could not leave Rajshahi due to the protests while the departure of Dhumketu Express to Dhaka became uncertain, the station manager said.

The university said in a statement it filed a case at Motihar Police Station over the clashes.

Registrar Abdus Salam, the plaintiff of the case, said 400 to 500 unidentified people were accused in it.

Police officer Hafizur said they arrested a suspect, Taslim Ali alias Peter, 45, in the case.

Earlier on Sunday, a group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists helped Vice-Chancellor Professor Golam Shabbir Sattar escape from the Senate building besieged by student protesters.

After two hours of the besiegement of the building, the Chhatra League activists of the university came to the aid of the embattled Sattar, who had been under pressure from students seeking justice and swift investigation into the violent clashes that left at least 92 students injured.

Saturday's clash stemmed from a dispute between a student and bus operators before spiralling out of control and spilling onto the Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway.

Details are sketchy, but according to students and locals, Alamin Akash, a sociology student, got into a row with staff members 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.

After the bus stopped, a local shopkeeper intervened and became embroiled in an altercation with students gathered at the Binodpur gate. 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.

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.