Students and job seekers who took to the streets last week demanding overhaul of the quota system in government jobs have demanded the withdrawal of cases filed against them with Shahbagh police.
They threatened to stage demonstrations if the demand was not met within two days.
Reading out a prepared statement on Monday at a press briefing at the Dhaka University campus, Nurul Haq Nur, joint convenor of a platform spearheading the quota reform protest said the students injured in police action during peaceful demonstrations had been made accused in the cases.
He said one of the conditions for calling off their protest was that the cases will be withdrawn.
“But they have not been yet. If they are not withdrawn within the next two days, then we will stage protests if necessary,” he told the press.
Four cases were filed against unnamed accused on April 11 after the clash on the Dhaka University campus, and vandalism of the vice-chancellor’s residence during the demonstration, reports UNB.
Nur claimed that those who attacked the vice-chancellor’s residence were outsiders. He alleged that a vested quarter was conspiring to divert the demonstration.
The protest’s leaders also urged the authorities not to harass any student at the university.
At the press conference, the students also protested a report published by the Daily Ittefaq, which termed the protesters as Shibir activists.
They demanded withdrawal of the report, threatening that all educational institutions and universities will boycott the newspaper from Tuesday otherwise.
Leaders of the protest Rashed Ahmed Khan, DU banking student, Faruk Hossain of disaster management and Nur, a student of English, were at the protest.
Three leaders ‘questioned’ by police
On their way back from the press briefing, Rashed, Faruk and Nur were picked up by police.
However, the police claimed that they were called in for discussion.
Eyewitnesses said the trio was stopped in front of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) Emergency Gate around 12:45pm by some armed men in plainclothes and forced into a microbus.
Rashed, speaking at a press conference around 3:20pm said: “We were picked up by some unidentified armed men forcibly.”
He said his father Nabai Biswas was detained by police in Jhenaidah and harassed.
Nurul Haque said: “Two microbuses with black glass and seven or eight motorcycles surrounded us and forced us into one of the vehicles. They covered our eyes with towels after reaching Gulistan, put helmets on our head. They uncovered our eyes after taking us to the DB office on Minto Road.”
“When we asked them why they picked us up here they said that there was a threat of attack on us and they were trying to save us. They also said they would show us some footage of the culprits who vandalized the VC’s residence. But they did not show us any such thing.”
Meanwhile, DB Joint Commissioner Abdul Baten said: “They were brought here as we needed some help with information. They have been released now. We showed them some video footage and sought some information.
“They were not detained or arrested. We will seek information from everyone.”
Freedom fighters to stage rally on April 24
Meanwhile at a press conference on Monday morning at the National Press Club, freedom fighters called a rally against quota reform movement at Shahbagh on April 24.
The press conference was organized by ‘Muktijoddha Moha Shomabesh Bastobayon Parishad.’
“This rally is against the anti-liberation forces who are trying to gain benefits in the guise of quota reformers,” said Adbul Ahad Chowdhury, former chairman of the Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad central command council.
In a written statement Abdul Ahad said: “We know that these anti-liberation forces are trying to catch fish in shallow waters with this so-called quota reform movement, and patriots like us cannot stay quiet.
“This ill conspiracy of the anti liberation forces should be stopped at any cost.”
“Every patriot and freedom fighter should come together against the anti-liberation forces and their evil plans. This is a time to act as a united front,” Abdul Ahad further added.
Sections of this article were first published on banglatribune.com