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Protests likely to continue despite day of violence

  • Published at 11:04 am August 5th, 2018
Students continued their protests for the seventh day across Dhaka yesterday, and despite the violence they want to continue Syed Zakir Hossain

Many protesters however are saying they will continue to be on the streets till the government shows visible progress and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan resigns

In the seventh day of the ongoing student protests demanding safe roads, violence erupted in Dhaka as several students were injured in clashes with unidentified men.

Many protesters however are saying they will continue to be on the streets till the government shows visible progress and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan resigns.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader alleged that political intruders are influencing students’ peaceful demonstration and turning it into an anti-government protest.

Meanwhile, commuters' sufferings continued as protesters blocked major roads and public transport companies refrained from operating for the second day.

People were paying double or triple fare on the few rickshaws or other transport that were available. Protesters blocked the roads at Jasim Uddin area in Uttara, Mirpur 10 intersection, Dhanmondi 27 intersection, Jigatola, Science Lab, Jatrabari and Shahbagh area.

Protesters in Jigatola, Science Lab, Mirpur 1, 2 and 12 were attacked and they countered, leading to clashes. Around 50 people who sustained injuries from the clash took treatment from nearby Japan-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital. Two pedestrians were attacked and took treatment at Dhaka medical College Hospital (DMCH).

In Uttara, thousands of students from Uttarra, Tongi based school and colleges took part in the protest in Housebuilding and Airport areas around 11am. They blocked the road towards Tongi from Airport for six hours.

In Mirpur, the students started gathering at Mirpur 1, 2, 10 and 12 around 11am and they blocked Mirpur 10 intersection after being charged at around 12pm. Students alleged that local Chhatra League and Shramik League members attacked them at section 1, 2 and 12. The protest was called off around 4:30pm without any major violence.          

At the Science Laboratory intersection, students who had been carrying out demonstrations for a week, turned violent after being attacked by unidentified men around 1pm. The protest started around 11pm. 

Several clashes took place between the protesters and the attackers, allegedly Chhatra League men, in front of Dhaka City College and Lab Aid Hospital. A large group of female protesters were forced to take shelter in a building adjacent to Dhaka City College. However, the students later got out of the building and left the place in groups. The protest came to an end around 5pm.

At Jatrabari intersection, protests started around 10:30am. The students immediately blocked the road. Transport workers, waiting nearby, swooped on the protesters. The protesters withdrew and took position in Sayedabad area. Students claimed that transport workers were accompanied by local Jubo League members and law enforcers.

Hundreds of students took position at Bangshal intersection around 10am. Later they blocked Ray Shaheb Bazar, English Road, Tanti Bazar area after being moved away by police. The students were seen checking documents of the vehicles and managing traffic.

At Shahbagh, the protests were peaceful. Students began protesting at the intersection around 11am, checking the licences of drivers without making a blockade and forcing vehicles to travel in single lanes. However, a traffic gridlock soon formed in the area as a result. They called it off around 3:15pm, stating that it would resume at 11am today. 

Protesting students said they would continue their movement because the majority of their demands had not been met yet – especially the resignation of the shipping minister.

No major violence was reported in Shantinagar and Motijheel area yesterday. 

Students unsure where this is going

The protesting students said they would hold their position until the government shows visible proof of implementing its promises. 

Asked when would they leave the streets, protesters seemed unsure. However, one of them, a Dhaka College Student named Shahriar, said the protest would end if the shipping minister resigns and the government shows visible progress in implementing its promises.

“We saw what they did during quota reform movement. We are realizing that our protest is causing sufferings for people including our family members. We need to study more and need to be in the schools. But still we are here as we cannot take to the streets every time an accident takes place,” said a college student. 

He said the government had promised a new law with tougher punishments for killing people on the streets, but the draft law only stipulates three years of rigorous imprisonment from reckless driving.