At least 16 people were injured during nationwide strikes by the Progressive Students’ Alliance on Monday, after activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League allegedly launched attacks on the protesters at university campuses across the country.
The alliance issued the call for Monday’s protests to demand the punishment of Chhatra League members who attacked protesters in front of the DU VC’s office last Tuesday.
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST)
A group of 15 to 20 members of the ruling party’s student front reportedly attacked protesters in front of the main gate of SUST at around 11am, leaving at least eight injured.
Alliance activist Touhiduzzaman Jewel told the Dhaka Tribune that five of the activists were injured while the students were taking up position at the gate.
Upon receiving news of the incident, SUST Proctor Jahir Uddin Ahmed rushed to the location, while Jalalabad police station Officer-in-Charge Shafiqur Rahman Khan said police had already been deployed.
Rajshahi University (RU)
At least three protesters from the alliance were injured at RU, allegedly after clashing with Chhatra League activists, police and some university staff from a pro-Awami League panel.
Activists of the Progressive Students’ Alliance reportedly gathered in front of the administration building of the university at 8am, after which there was a dispute between the alliance protesters, university proctor and administration officials at around 9:30am.
“The disagreement led to a scuffle, at which point the proctor instructed police to remove the activists from the location,” said RU Students Union President AM Shakil.
Progressive Students Alliance leaders and activists in Chittagong were allegedly attacked by the Government City College unit of Chhatra League, leaving at least five injured.
Partha Pratim Nandy, secretary of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front’s Chittagong city unit, claimed that Chhatra League men armed with metal rods and brickbats attacked alliance protesters in the presence of law enforcement officials at the New Market area of the port city.
“Some of our activists sustained injuries during the attack,” Mandy said. “The Chhatra League men also threw brickbats at us. At one stage they chased us and we took shelter in a nearby building.”
The claims were refuted by Chhatra League Government City College unit Secretary Iqbal Hossain.
Inspector Jahidul Kabir of Kotwali police station said that no attack took place in presence of the police, though law enforcement officials rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Dhaka University (DU)
Two separate rallies were organized at DU, where the Progressive Students’ Alliance had originally called the strike.
The first rally was organized in the morning by protesters under the banner “Students against Repression” in support of the strike called by the alliance. At the rally, the protesters locked the main gate of the Arts Faculty.
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Protesters form a human chain, demanding the punishment of Chhatra League men who attacked students, at DU's Madhur Canteem on Monday; January 29, 2018 Focus Bangla
In addition, classes were cancelled by various departments - including public administration, anthropology, English, accounting, statistics, marketing, mass communication and journalism, and biochemistry - as students observed the strike.
Activists of “Students against Repression” announced at the rally that they would burn an effigy of DU Proctor Professor AKM Golam Rabbani in demanding his resignation.
Subsequently, the Progressive Students’ Alliance held their rally at the base of Aparajeo Bangla sculpture at around 12pm.
Addressing the programme, alliance Convener Imran Habib said further protests would be held on January 31, a memorandum would be submitted to the chancellor of the universities on February 18, and protests under the banner “Badi Pokkho” would be held from February 1 to 18, all in the demand for a democratic environment at educational institutions and for the DUCSU polls.
“The alliance will adopt a hardline stance if the authorities fail to take action against those who attacked protesters by February 10,” Imran said.
Also on Monday, lawyers of the Supreme Court formed a human chain under the banner “General Lawyers” and called for the authorities to maintain peace on university campuses and urging a democratic solution to the current crisis.
Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua made the address at the programme.