Students of at least 19 private universities joined the ongoing movement demanding reformation to the existing quota system of the public service recruitment, by blockading various major roads in Dhaka on Tuesday.
They started bringing out processions and blocking the roads around the capital from 10am, showing solidarity to the nationwide movement spearheaded by Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhon Parishad, comprised of students from various public colleges and universities and jobseekers.
The areas where vehicular movement had come to a standstill, and later diverted, include Rampura, Nadda, Badda, Malibagh, Kuril Bishwa Road, Dhanmondi and Mirpur Road.
Traffic on the streets around those areas started returning to normal around 5pm after the private university students lifted their blockades.
“Considering the commuters’ sufferings, we have lifted the blockade ahead of schedule,” said Md Arif, a student of North South University (NSU).
The private universities included NSU, Brac University, American International University of Bangladesh (AIUB), Independent University, East West University (EWU), Southeast University, United International University (UIU) and Daffodil International University (DIU).
The movement calling for reform to the quota system had started in mid February. But it received a major boost, spreading nationwide majorly, after violent tripartite clashes between police, Bangladesh Chhatra League and the demonstrators in Dhaka University (DU) campus between Sunday evening and early Monday.
Apart from the capital, private university students also demonstrated in different districts around the country on Tuesday.
In the morning, students from NSU and AIUB first had blockaded the road in front of Jamuna Future Park in Bashundhara Residential Area.
EWU students blocked the road in the east of Rampura Bridge while DIU students blocked the road in Dhanmondi’s Sobhanbag area.
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However, Sher-E-Bangla Nagar police station OC Ganesh Biswas said: “Daffodil university students tried occupying the streets to demonstrate. But we forced them inside their campus. Now they are continuing their protests inside the campus.”
On the other hand, Badda police station OC Wajed Ali said they had tried to come to an understanding with the students after they blocked one side of the main road.
The OC of Bhatara police station also provided similar information, saying the police were trying to pacify the demonstrating students.
On Sunday, after over five hours of blockade at Shahbagh intersection, police had launched an assault to disperse the demonstrators in the evening, which led to overnight clashes inside DU campus.
Police had fired teargas shells and rubber bullets, used water cannons and charge baton to disperse the students, but to no avail, while the demonstrators retaliated by throwing brickbats and starting fire at different points on the campus.
More than 100 people were injured while police detained over 50 demonstrators during running battles, which were joined by Chhatra League in phases.
Daunted by the police, the demonstrators had taken position in the DU Central Library and TSC areas.
In the early hours of Monday, many had broken into DU Vice Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman’s residence and extensively vandalized the property as well as torched the his cars and surrounding motorbikes.
On Monday, countrywide protests were also held in different public universities calling for quota reforms and justice against the police attack on students in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader met with the leaders of the movement later in the afternoon.
Emerging from that meeting, Obaidul said the government would come up with a solution by May 7.
Soothed by the government’s assurance, the demonstrators had announced to halt their movement till then. But that led to a disagreement, and the students were divided into two groups.
On Tuesday, one of them went for halting the movement, while the other declared to continue the demonstrations demanding immediate measures from the government.
However, after Finance Minsiter AMA Muhith later in the day said quota system would not be re-examined before the next national budget, the student factions in the evening reconciled and resumed their demonstrations together.
Around 8:15pm, they adjourned the protests till 10am Wednesday.
Sections of this article were first published on banglatribune.com