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Justice for Tonu: Leftist student bodies observe half-day hartal

  • Published at 04:12 pm April 25th, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:13 pm April 25th, 2016

Left-leaning students' organisations in Bangladesh observed a nationwide half-day hartal on Monday demanding justice for Sohagi Jahan Tonu, who was found dead inside Comilla cantonment over a month ago.

In Dhaka, hundreds of leftist student activists from Progressive Students' Alliance and Anti-Imperialist Students' Union put up a blockade at Shahbagh intersection since 7:30 in the morning.

Their movement caused severe traffic disruption in the area and did not get back to its normal state until noon, when the protesters lifted the blockade.

The protesters also demanded an end to the recent trend of abduction and murder in the country.

Faisal Mahmud, coordinator of Anti-Imperialist Students' Union, said the hartal earned support from all around Bangladesh.

There have been reports of protesters getting attacked and arrested around the country, he said.

We received news that 15 pro-hartal activists were arrested at Jahangirnagar University. Hartal supporters have been attacked in Bogra, Joypurhat and Gazipur. Some of our activists have been detained there as well," Faisal said.

The government has to come out of this culture of impunity. Those who killed Tonu should be arrested and brought to justice,” said Liton Modi, former president of Bangladesh Chhatra Union's Dhaka University unit.

He also said a countrywide protest would be observed on Tuesday against Monday's arrests across the country.

Tonu, a second-year student of Comilla Victoria College and a cultural activist, was found dead in Comilla cantonment on March 20.

Policemen attack JU protesters, 13 arrested

Police launched an attack on the protesting leftist students at Jahangirnagar University (JU) on Monday as they blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway to observe the half-day hartal protesting Tonu's murder.

Sources at the JU campus said at least 50 student leaders and activists from the Progressive Students' Alliance and the Anti-Imperialist Students' Union staged the demonstration protesting the ongoing trend of abduction-murder-rape around the country.

The blockade lasted for hours, causing serious tailbacks on the highway and causing commuters much suffering.

The students were asked to move their demonstration away from the highway by Ashulia police and JU authorities, but as they refused to comply, police launched an attack on them to disperse them.

The also arrested 13 students, including Chhatra Front's JU unit Vice-President Masuk Helal Anik, Secretary Sushmita Marium, and Chhatra Union's JU unit General Secretary Abid Sarker Shohag on the spot around 8:40am, said Dipanjan Siddhanta Kajal, president of Chhatra Union's JU unit.

However, police released the students around 5pm as the university authorities contacted the police authorities to get them out of police custody, said JU Proctor Prof Tapan Kumar Saha.

This garnered a negative reaction from the protesters as well as the general students of the university who demanded the proctor's resignation.

The protesters claimed the proctor had been irresponsible in his duty because he ordered the attack on students. They said they would continue demonstration demanding his removal.

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