The violence during protests at Rajshahi University on Sunday after clashes between students and locals a day earlier was carried out by outsiders, not pupils, believes Vice-Chancellor Professor Golam Shabbir Sattar.
Protesters blocked a railway near the campus by lighting up a fire on the tracks on Sunday night, leaving several trains stranded. They also vandalised and looted shops.
“We have information that students launched the demonstration yesterday [Sunday], but they lost control of the movement to outsiders. It’s a matter of concern for us,” VC Folam Shabbir said at a press conference on Monday.
“Our boys and girls might face problems and we can solve those together. So, I think outsiders were involved in such violence, arson and looting.”
Classes and exams will resume at the university on Tuesday after a two-day suspension over the clashes and protests following an altercation with transport workers.
According to students and locals, Alamin Akash, a sociology student who got admitted in the 2017-18 session, engaged in an altercation with the workers of bus company Mohammad Paribahan while travelling to Rajshahi from Bogura on Saturday.
Upon arriving at the university's Binodpur gate, the student continued to argue with the transport workers.
A local shopkeeper intervened and got engaged in an altercation with the students who gathered at Binodpur gate after the bus stopped. The situation escalated to a brawl, witnesses said.
Later, students from the university's sociology department gathered at the scene and attacked local shopkeepers. In response, the locals launched a counter-attack, leading to violent clashes.
The students also blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway as both sides started throwing brickbats at each other.
More than 200 people, including police and journalists, were injured in the clashes, and many of them, including 92 students, were admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
On Sunday, the students launched protests demanding safety on the campus.
VC Golam Shabbir said the university would not allow outsiders on the campus after sunset to ensure safety of the students.
He urged the students to carry their ID cards and help the authorities identify outsiders.