North South University students and police clashed for around five hours yesterday during a protest at the assault on some NSU students allegedly by Ansar members and security guards in Bashundhara Residential Area on Wednesday night.
Several hundred students started demonstrating on the campus inside Bashundhara around 10:30am. At one stage, they marched to nearby Pragati Sarani and blocked the thoroughfare for two hours.
As police drove them away, they moved back into Bashundhara. While on retreat, they threw brick chunks at police and set fire to placards and posters.
Police fired dozens of teargas canisters to bring the situation under control, witnesses said.
Pragati Sarani was cleared for traffic around 12:30pm.
However, chase and counter-chase between the protestors and the police continued inside Bashundhara until 5:00pm.
The protesters vandalised the Bashundhara Group's corporate office, about a dozen cars parked at the office and three restaurants.
All shops were closed and vehicular movement was suspended inside the residential area during the incident, witnesses added.
NSU student Zunaid Hossain told The Daily Star that three of his fellow students on a motorbike went to have dinner at a restaurant near Apollo Hospitals around 10:25pm on Wednesday.
As they parked the bike in front of the hospital, some Ansar members approached them and asked them to move the bike. And soon an altercation ensued.
NSU student Md Samrat said that at one stage, the Ansar members started assaulting the students. Bashundhara security guards in plainclothes also joined in and beat up the students.
Shahriar Hasnat Topu, an eighth semester BBA student, was seriously injured.
The two other students managed to run away. They informed other students, and 20 to 30 people gathered in front of the hospital and demonstrated, sources said.
Belal Ahmed, deputy director public relation of NSU, said the students stopped in front of the hospital when they realised they had dropped something on the way and wanted to look for the item leaving the bike there. They had even informed a security guard of what they were doing.
“But the security guard beat up the student for parking in a 'no-parking' area. Later, over a dozen guards joined in the assault,” he told The Daily Star.
NSU Proctor Syed Azizul Islam went to the spot and calmed the situation after a meeting with Bashundhara authorities.
Injured Topu took treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital first but he was later moved to the Apollo Hospitals as the Bashundhara authorities took responsibility for his treatment, according to students and NSU authorities.
The Bashundhara authorities even paid the injured student Tk 25,000 for damage done to his motorbike, Mohammad Abu Tayeb, adviser (media) of Bashundhara Group, told The Daily Star.
The proctor said that those who vandalised establishments and cars yesterday were not students of NSU and that the issue had been settled the night before.
Bashundhara Group's Tayeb claimed their security guards were not involved in the assault on the students Wednesday night, and that it was the Ansar members who were to blame.
Tayeb said the victim had parked the bike at a sensitive place near the hospital. When the Ansar members tried to interrogate him, it turned into a scuffle.
Even though Tayeb claimed their security guards were not involved, Bashundhara decided to take action against the security guards responsible after talking to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
Bashundhara Group also compensated the victim by deciding to take care of his medical expenses and had paid for the damage to his bike, Tayeb added.
The students stopped their demonstrations yesterday after Bashundhara Group agreed to meet all their demands following an emergency meeting at the NSU Proctor's Office where NSU authorities, DMP, Bashundhara Group and student representatives were present.
The students had demanded appropriate actions against the Ansar and Bashundhara security personnel concerned by Bashundhara Group and the DMP, and improved compensation package for the victim by Bashundhara.
The students had also demanded that vehicles be allowed to park in front of the hospital at night.
Bashundhara agreed to allow parking there until 8:00pm and said they would extend the time to 10:00pm later on.
Talking to this correspondent, several locals alleged that many Bashundhara security guards have a cavalier attitude and often treat locals poorly.
SM Mustak Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Gulshan division, told The Daily Star that in their preliminary probe they found that both Ansar and the security guards of Bashundhara were present at the scene on Wednesday night.
He said more time was needed to find out what had actually happened.
Mizanur Rahman, additional commissioner (Crime) of DMP, said police drove the students into their campus yesterday to maintain law and order after they blocked the road, damaged properties of Bashundhara Group, and hurled brick chunks at police.
He said police would decide on their next course of action after analyzing CCTV footage.
NSU cancelled classes and tests until Friday.
Police picked up some students and locals from the spot.