Bangladesh Chhatra League activists have beaten up Dhaka University (DU) students who had the vice-chancellor (VC) under a siege in his office for around four hours in protest against a previous assault on them by the ruling party’s student wing.
The attack on Tuesday left at least 30 students injured, including 10 in critical condition. They are all being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and the DU medical centre.
The events that unfolded in the afternoon had followed a procession taken out by the newly-formed alliance of protesters, who identified themselves as ‘Students against Repression,’ around 11:30am.
After parading through the campus and holding a human chain at the base of Aparajeyo Bangla sculpture, the protesters broke the main gate and two collapsible gates of the administration building to lay a siege on VC Md Akhtaruzzaman’s office around 12pm.
They had threatened to keep the VC Office under siege until the demands are met.
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Protesters break the lock on the main gate to barge into the vice-chancellor's office at Dhaka University on January 23, 2018 | Focus Bangla
Around 3pm, the VC tried to leave the building through the back entrance, but the students stopped him and raised their four-point charter of demands, which include immediate resignation of Proctor AKM Golam Rabbani, withdrawal of a case against them and action against the Chhatra League activists for assaulting them last week.
Although the VC assured that steps would be taken after an investigation as per the university rules and regulations, the protesters demanded his immediate announcement on meeting their demands.
Also Read- Students besiege DU VC’s office
After a while, at least 25 Chhatra League activists, led by General Secretary SM Jakir Hossain and Chhatra League’s DU unit President Abid Al Hasan, arrived at the scene in a bid to rescue the VC.
They escorted the VC back to his room from there and then launched an assault on the protesters, including female students, in and around the administration building with rods and sticks to disperse them, said witnesses.
The injured, who faced the wrath of the Chhatra League activists, include Bangladesh Chhatra Union General Secretary Liton Nandi, Chhatra Federation DU unit President Umme Habiba Benazir, Sanajtantrik Chhatra Front leaders Eva Majumdar and Pragati Barman, spokesperson of the protesters Masud Al Mahadi, and DU Journalists’ Association Vice President Mir Arshadul Haque.
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The protesters had the vice-chancellor under siege in his office for around four hours at the Dhaka University administration building on January 23, 2018 | Dhaka Tribune
Many Chhatra League activists, who had come from different university dormitories, were also seen chasing the protesters and beating them up at different locations on the campus.
The protesters’ alliance was formed after Chhatra League activists on January 15 assaulted female students at a rally that urged the DU to scrap its affiliation with seven Dhaka-based colleges.
The next day, they had laid siege to the proctor’s office demanding punishment to the accused activists of the Awami League student affiliate.
But, two days later, DU authorities filed a case against 50 unidentified students accusing them of vandalising the proctor’s office, a move which students protested by taking out a procession the same night.
One of the injured in Tuesday’s fracas, Mir Arshadul, who is also the DU correspondent of English daily The Independent, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Chhatra League men attacked me when I was trying to protect junior students. They managed to escape, but I could not.”
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Chhatra League activists swoop on agitating students at the Dhaka University administration building on January 23, 2018 | Dhaka Tribune
However, Chhatra League President Saifur Rahman Sohag at an urgent press briefing at Madhur Canteen in the evening claimed that his organization’s leaders and activists were also injured in an attack launched by the demonstrators.
Demanding immediate punishment of the attackers, he further alleged: “Activists of Chhatra Dal, Shibir [Sic] and Leftist organizations had kept the VC under siege. They are trying to destabilize the university. They also assaulted female activists of Chhatra League.”
“General students had come to our aid in repelling them,” he claimed.
Chhatra League General Secretary Jakir also demanded punishment of those who “manhandled the honourable vice-chancellor.”
Even though around 20 female Chhatra League activists were admitted to the DU medical centre as injured, witnesses alleged that many of them had no visible wounds on them.
Chhatra League’s Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall unit General Secretary Srabony Shaila had also gone to DMCH for medical treatment after attending the press conference at Madhur Canteen.