Demonstrators demand resignation of the home minister for failing to stop the heinous crimes
Protests against the sudden rise in the number of countrywide rapes and incidents of violence against women continued for the second consecutive day yesterday, with a number of demonstrations taking in place in Dhaka city alone.
People from all walks of life were seen thronging the capital’s Shahbagh, Uttara, and Gulshan 2 areas to join the protests since yesterday morning.
Several left-leaning student bodies, demonstrating at the Shahbagh intersection, again raised their demand for the resignation of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for failing to stop the rapes across the country.
Under the banner of “Bangladesh Against Rape,” leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra Union and Samajtantrik Chhatra Front and other leftist student organizations began demonstrating there at around 12pm yesterday.
One of their processions with black flags scuffled with police near the Hotel InterContinental intersection some 30 minutes later, when the protesters were heading towards the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Tejgaon.
Police, protesters scuffle near Hotel InterContinental
The Chhatra Union claimed that police had baton-charged the protesters as they tried to move towards the PMO, leaving at least five injured, who were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
The injured have been identified as, Asmania Asha, education secretary of Jagannath University Chhatra Union, Mahmuda Dwipa, education secretary of the Dhaka Metropolitan unit, Sajjad Hossain Shuvo, organizing secretary of Mohammadpur police station unit, Arefin Emon, convener of the Mohammadpur University College unit, and Russell Rahman, member of the same unit.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Chhatra Union General Secretary Anik Roy said: “Our peaceful protests were thwarted by the police, who carried out vicious attacks on our leaders and activists instead of arresting the rapists."
However, police say their officials were defending themselves as the protesters had tried to force their way past a police barricade.
Ramna zone Deputy Commissioner of police Sazzadur Rahman said: “Police had barricaded the Shahbagh-Shakura point to avoid chaos on the road. We were on the other side of the barricade. The protesters broke through that and attacked us.
"There was a clash between the two sides. The police did not attack first. The protesters came and attacked us. The police were trying to defend themselves,” he added, mentioning that two policemen had been injured in the process.
In the evening, they brought out a vigil procession from Shahbagh, where it ended after they paraded through Hatirpool at around 7:30pm yesterday.
They also burnt an effigy of the home minister at Shahbagh at the end of the procession.
Meanwhile, Sammilita Sangskritik Jote staged a sit-in programme at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka protesting the countrywide rapes and violence against women.
The central unit of the Bangladesh Chhatra League held a candlelight procession on the Dhaka University campus in the evening, protesting the rape incidents.
Women stage peaceful sit-in at Gulshan
Over a hundred women of different backgrounds gathered at the Gulshan 2 circle yesterday afternoon with festoons and placards demanding exemplary punishment for the rapists. Most of the protesters were residents of Gulshan.
Contacted, Gulshan police station OC Abul Hasan said: "They held a peaceful sit-in for about an hour and a half before leaving."
Students of different educational institutions also gathered at Uttara’s House Building intersection to continue their protests against rape for the second day.
The general students and leftist student fronts had kicked off the demonstrations in the city on Monday, especially after a video of the stripping, torture and sexual violation of a woman in Noakhali went viral recently alongside the sudden rise in the number of rapes over the past few weeks.
So far, six people have been arrested over the incident in Noakhali, which took place several weeks ago.
The country was also shocked by the gang rape of a woman by several Bangladesh Chhatra League men on the MC College premises in Sylhet on the night of September 25.
In another development, leaders and activists of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front and women rights platform Bangladesh Nari Mukti Kendra set fire to the home minister’s effigy in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday.
Kamal, they said, had made bizarre comments on rape, encouraging rapists.
Addressing a party program on September 29, the home minister, who is also an Awami League MP, said rape was not a social menace exclusive to Bangladesh as there was no country where such incidents did not happen.
Protests outside Dhaka
Meanwhile, outrage continued to grow outside the capital over the recent rape incidents as people took to the streets demanding exemplary punishment for those responsible for such crimes.
People representing different walks of life, including teachers, students, journalists, lawyers and members of civil society of a number of districts, including Sunamganj, Meherpur, Tangail, Rajshahi, Chuadanga, Comilla, Bhola, Bramanbaria, Satkhira, Rajshahi and Narayanganj protested, seeking justice for the rape survivors.
Waves of anti-rape demonstrations have arisen across Bangladesh after a video footage of five men gang-raping a housewife, stripping her naked and filming the video of the incident in Begumganj upazila of Noakhali, went viral on social media on Sunday.
The incident occurred in Noakhali's Begumganj upazila at Joykrishnapur village of Eklashpur union on September 2.
Our correspondents Fahim Reza Shovon, Hasan Al Javed, Abdullah Al Numan, of Tangail, Ujjal Chakroborty of Brahmanbaria, Dulal Abdullah, of Rajshahi, Shamima Rita of Narayanganj, Asaduzzaman Sardar of Satkhira, Masud Alam of Comilla, Himadri Shekhar Bhodra of Sunamganj, Ahad Chowdhury Tuhin of Bhola and Mehedi Hasan of Chuadanga contributed to this report