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Fact-check: Rumours that spread during Saturday's protests

  • Published at 10:19 am August 5th, 2018
web-Students-clash-Chhatra-League-Jigatola-mehedi-hasan-04.08.2018
Students clash with unidentified men, who many claimed were activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, in Jigatola, Dhaka on August 4, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

As rumours spread, the Dhaka Tribune tried throughout the day to verify the claims

Yesterday, as clashes took place between students protesting for road safety and unknown attackers, a number of rumors circulated through social media, inciting further violence, especially around Dhanmondi area.

As the rumours spread, the Dhaka Tribune tried throughout the day to verify the claims.

Rumour: Along with the protesters on the streets, thousands of social media users shared news about the murder of two/three/four protesting students. Another claim was that three or four female protesters were raped by Chhatra League men inside the Awami League office in Dhanmondi. They also claimed the dead bodies were kept inside the party office.

What we found: The leaders of Awami League brought five protesters into its party office to see if there were any dead bodies or captive protesters. The students searched the party office but did not find anything, our correspondent reports. Later, the students spoke to the press, saying the rumours were false and urged everyone not to believe in them.

Bangladesh Chhatra League’s General Secretary Golam Rabbani said: “The students’ demands are logical and we are on their side. Some vested quarters are spreading rumours of rape and murder in social media. Those are nothing but fabricated.”

Rumour: On Friday, a message was sent to many mobile phones that claimed hundreds of men wearing school or college uniform would launch attack on the protesters. Similar messages were also circulated on social media.

What we found: While protesters were attacked in several places by unidentified men wearing helmets and covering their faces, the Dhaka Tribune reporters did not find anyone wearing uniform attacking student protesters. On the other hand, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said their intelligence unit had evidence about a vested quarter that was hatching conspiracies to divert the ongoing student’s movement to fulfill their own agendas. Some clothing stores in Dhaka have claimed that the sales of school uniforms had gone up significantly. 

Rumour: Students from Uttara called the Dhaka Tribune saying they had heard that Bangladesh Chhatra League was making a list of the protesters to beat them up. Many of them were panicked and said they feared for their safety.

What we found: The Dhaka Tribune contacted Chhatra League leaders who denied these allegations. Chhatra League General Secretary Golam Rabbani said: “There are no such lists. Our prime minister has asked us to take care of the protesting students and we also have expressed solidarity towards the movement.”

“However, the fact is that in many schools and colleges there are no Chhatra League committees but Chhatra Shibir does have committees. They are spreading this sort of propaganda to incite violence,” he added.