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Dhaka Tribune

Police foils Shahbagh protests

Update : 17 Jul 2013, 02:08 AM

Protesters of 10 left-leaning student organisations failed to block the traffic movement at Shahbagh intersection having met with stiff resistance from police Tuesday.

Around 100 activists of the student bodies based at Dhaka University gathered in front of the National Museum to stage a sit-in at the major roundabout.

There were no presence of Ganajagaran Mancha activists in and around Shahbagh in the morning though they too had enforced general strike for the day.

The demonstrators were forced to stay away from the street after encountering the police in the morning. The activists were marking the nationwide shutdown enforced by the progressive student organisations protesting the verdict on the war crimes committed by former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam.

Scores of police members, many of whom were in riot gears, were deployed in the area to block the protesters.

Around 7:30am, when protesters were attempting to take to the streets, law enforcers warned them that they would not be allowed to take over the busy thoroughfare, considering the sufferings of the commuters. 

Police, however, let them bring out processions that paraded across various streets to press home their demands.

Speaking on the police obstruction, leaders of the agitating leftist student organisations said it proved that they were not the tool of Awami League government.

“The browbeating from police is an evidence that our movement is not a police-backed movement, rather it is a pro-people movement,” Bangladesh Chhatra Union Dhaka University unit President Maruf Billah Tanmoy said.   

Ganajagaran Mancha convener Imran H Sarkar along with some of his associates showed up at Shahbagh at 11am, but did not stay there for long.

Imran stood beside the rally held by the student organisations on the road approaching the Shahbagh intersection for about five minutes. He then spoke to the media for some time and left the scene with his fellows. 

Asked about the near-absence of Ganajagaran Mancha activists and supporters in the protests, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front DU unit General Secretary Ruhul Amin said the Mancha no longer draws as many crowds as it used to.

“But what can you do if you lose momentum?” he posed a question.

Strikers of 10 student organisations held a rally in the city throughout the day and brought out three processions till 2:30pm. Samajtantrik Chhatra Front leader Preetilota told the rally: “Our brothers have been picketing in the area from the very morning to make the hartal successful.”

However, the traffic movement on the road even a few yards away from the rally was normal throughout the day.

Referring to the scant attendance in the gathering, leaders of the student organisations said people now think the Awami League government would not  do justice to the war criminals, which is why they preferred to stay away.

The Awami League leaders who used to get panicky just a few months back now expressed satisfaction with the verdict of Ghulam Azam.

Meanwhile, police recovered seven live handbombs from Suhrawardy Uddyan near Shahbagh around 3:30pm on Tuesday.  None was arrested so far.

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