Hundreds injured in clashes as Dhaka student protest shut down


Bangladeshi students mass on the streets of Dhaka after two pupils were killed by a bus in front of their college. PHOTO/AFP/ Khandaker Azizur Rahman Sumon/NurPhoto

More than 300 people were injured in violent clashes that marred the end of the student-led protest for safer roads, which had brought Dhaka to standstill for over a week.

The ruling Awami League government was accused of using its student wing, the Bangladesh Chatra League, as well as police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets to crush the nine-day demonstration by tens of thousands of school and university students.

Clashes erupted in different parts of Dhaka from Saturday to Monday as students, journalists, photographers, pedestrians battled authorities and young men, allegedly from the Chatra League.

Social media was flooded with shocking images and videos of injured students and media personnel, while rights groups issued cries for help. In most of the videos, unidentified men carrying rods, machetes and bamboo sticks were seen attacking students.

Protesters started leaving the streets on Tuesday morning. Educational institutes which had been closed opened up, albeit to fewer students than normal.

Actress and top photographer detained

Late on Sunday night, police detained and arrested the internationally-acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam. He was held under section 57 of the country’s infamous Information and Communication Technology Act for “hatching (an) international conspiracy.”

Alam had been providing updates about the protest through Facebook Live. He also gave an interview to Doha-based Al Jazeera network in which he criticized the government.

The well-known Bangladeshi actress Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed was also detained on Saturday and later placed in remand for four days for spreading rumors after she shared a post on Facebook that said two protesters were killed and that the eye of another was gouged out.

Amid the protest, on Sunday night, a car carrying the US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat was attacked by “armed adult men” — but she escaped unscathed, the embassy said.

The center of violence on the weekend was Dhanmondi, an upscale residential area in Dhaka where the office of the Awami League chairperson is located.

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