Bangladesh: Protesters call for release of arrested quota reformists

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Bangladesh continues to swell in protests over attack on quota reformists.

Protests continued yesterday against the recent attacks on some quota reform activists by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) men.

The protesters also demanded the immediate release of the arrested
quota reformists and called upon the government to end repression on the
demonstrators seeking quota reforms in civil service.

Teachers and students of Dhaka University's law department formed a
human chain near the Central Shaheed Minar, demanding immediate release
of a student of the department, Tarikul Islam, and withdrawal of a case
against him.

Around 200 students and teachers as well as Tarikul's father Shafiqul
Islam participated in the programme in front of the Law Faculty

On July 2, a group of BCL men beat up Tarikul on the premises of Dhaka University Central Library and handed him over to police.

He was later shown arrested in the case filed over vandalising the VC's residence.

Expressing solidarity with the demand, chairperson of the department
Prof Naima Haque said at the human chain, “Tarikul is a student of this
department; we want his release”.

Prof Asif Nazrul, another teacher of the department, said, “Chhatra
League men assaulted Tarikul and handed him over to the police for
taking part in a logical protest. He is being deprived of human rights

“He was shown arrested in an old case, which is totally irrelevant,” he said.

He demanded an end to BCL attacks as well as police torture on quota reform activists across the country.

Shafiqul alleged that the case was filed against his son only to harass him.

“My son did not commit any crime. He went to the central library to
study, but Chhatra League leaders picked him up from there and later
handed him over to the police,” he said.

One of Tarikul's classmates Fatema Tahsin said, “Tarikul is our
classmate and we would not sit for class and examination without him.”


A quota reform leader was injured in an attack allegedly by a group
of Chhatra League men at Sunamganj Government College yesterday.

The injured, Dwipal Bhattacharjee, a former president of the Chhatra
Union unit at the college, was undergoing treatment at Sunamganj Sadar

Witnesses said the attack was carried out around noon when a group of
quota reformists, including Dwipal, gathered at the college to discuss
about the movement.

All of a sudden, some BCL men swooped on them with iron rods and
sticks. One of the attackers stabbed Dwipal in his head with a knife,
leaving him injured, they said.

BCL leaders in the district, however, denied the allegation.

Ashiqur Rahman, general secretary of Sunamganj BCL, said they heard
about the incident but “none of the Chhatra League men was involved in

Mohammad Shahidullah, officer-in-charge of Sunamganj Model Police
Station, said additional law enforcers were deployed at the college to
avert further untoward situations.

No case was filed until last night.


Rights group Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) yesterday called upon the
government to end repression on the quota reform activists throughout
the country.

In a statement, it also urged the government to take initiatives to
ensure proper treatment of Toriqul Islam, who was beaten up with a
hammer and sticks by Chhatra League men near the Rajshahi University
campus on July 2.

The Daily Star has been able to identify 11 of the attackers, 10 of
them leaders and activists of the BCL, a pro-Awami League student

“We have been observing the reckless behaviour of the ruling party's
student wing Chhatra League for several years. They are often taking law
in their own hand which is unexpected,” the statement added.

The rights body also demanded immediate legal action against those
who attacked and harassed a female student at Dhaka University during
the quota reform movement on July 2.

Referring to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, the ASK condemned the
authorities of the public hospital for hastily discharging Toriqul.


Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League
General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday accused the BNP of plotting
over the quota reform movement.

“BNP wants to create an issue cashing on the quota reform movement,”
he told a press conference at the Setu Bhaban at Banani in the capital,
BSS reported.

Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would keep her promise regarding the announcement on the quota issue.

He also urged the demonstrators to stay calm for a few days.


The US embassy in Dhaka yesterday said the outrageous attack on
peaceful demonstrations by university students, the future leaders of
Bangladesh's proud democracy, is counter to the founding principles upon
which “our countries are established”.

“The US government stands together in solidarity with those
exercising their fundamental democratic rights -- freedom of speech,
freedom of assembly, and the right to engage in peaceful protest,” it
said in a Twitter statement.


No photos has been attached.