Student protests surge in Bangladesh capital

Adjust Comment Print

Thousands of students join in a protest over recent traffic accidents that killed a boy and a girl, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, August 5, 2018.

Student protesters shared a video shot from a balcony in Dhaka's Bashundhara, and gun shots can clearly be heard on the streets below. The concerns expressed by youth about road safety are legitimate and a solution is needed for a mega city like Dhaka.

Tens of thousands of uniformed students have turned out to demand a crackdown on reckless bus drivers since Sunday, when a privately run bus hit the college students, provoking fury. We wanted a peaceful protest.

How did things turn violent?

On several occasions, protesters and journalists covering the demonstrations were also attacked by unidentified men carrying sticks and metal rods, other media reported.

Meanwhile, suspension of bus services across the country has put extra pressure on the railway as many are opting for the service in the absence of buses. However hospital staff said dozens of people had been injured, some seriously, and injuries were consistent with those caused by rubber bullets.

A number of journalists' cameras were taken away as they were beaten by the police, as per the reports by ruling Awami League party members. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat was returning from dinner at the time of the attack.

The rights group also criticized the arrest of Shahidul Alam, a renowned photographer and activist, on charges of spreading false information about the protests and propaganda against the government under an information technology law.

According to Al Jazeera, the government blocked mobile phone signals for 24 hours in a bid to halt the riots in the capital and across the country.

Dhaka Police spokesperson Masudur Rahman said it was not true and that nothing happened at Jigatola.

How have the students organised themselves?

The United Nations said it was anxious for the safety of the children and young people caught up in the protests.

"Today the police specifically asked for help from armed goons to combat unarmed students demanding safe roads", said Alam.

The protests come just months before general elections scheduled for December and follow another series of protests in Dhaka this past spring. According to reports from local media channels, 3G and 4G services have been slowed down and suspended in some parts of the region for the past 24 hours to make it hard for students to organize protests.

Ms Hasina on Sunday urged the students to go home.

"Teenagers attacked Awami League's party office".

The United Nations said it was "deeply concerned about the reports of violence" and that concerns about road safety were "legitimate".

He said: "We strongly support the spirits of the young students in Bangladesh, who showcased few examples of detecting the irregularities related to road safety violations. We all know that in Bangladesh, you are not safe on the streets".