Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on Thursday detained two students of Dhaka University (DU) and one of Mohammadpur Central College, releasing them an hour later allegedly after giving them a beating.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Chhatra League had launched violent protests shortly after the students were detained, demanding their release.
Eyewitnesses said the RAB officials aimed a gun at the students on the main road in front of the DU Arts Building and beat them before dragging them into the law enforcement agency’s microbus and driving off at around 10pm.
The detained were identified as DU 4th year English Department student Imran Hossain, 3rd year Linguistics Department student Kazi Tanvir, and 2nd year HSC student of Mohammadpur Central College Moslem Uddin Himel. Imran is also the organizing secretary of the DU Surja Sen Hall Chhatra League.
The trio of students had obstructed an unidentified microbus with their motorcycle before the incident occurred, witnesses said.
They added that the students broke the rear view mirror of the microbus when the driver did not respond to their knocks on the window. Subsequently, RAB officials exited the vehicle, pointed a gun at the students, and then beat them before taking the three into custody.
RAB 10 commanding officer Shahbuddin Khan confirmed the trio were picked up by RAB 10 officials. He said: "It was nothing but a misunderstanding. The officials have picked them and released them at Elephant Road after confirming their identity from university authority."
When contacted, DU Assistant Proctor Sohel Rana also confirmed that the trio were picked up by RAB-10 and released, though he could not clarify why the students had been detained.
One of the victims, Imran Hossain, said: "The RAB officials beat me up and demanded money for my release. They told me that they would take me into custody and accuse me of being a militant."
After the students were detained, members of Bangladesh Chhatra League launched violent protests, marching from in front of the DU Art Building area to the Teacher Student Centre (TSC) with sticks in hand.
The protesters vandalized at least 10 vehicles at the TSC intersection.