Curfew imposed to quell chaos | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 23, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 23, 2007

Curfew imposed to quell chaos

Govt appeals for calm, warns tough action against trouble makers, all universities closed for indefinite period

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A motor vehicle in flames after agitators set fire to it on English Road in old part of the capital yesterday.Photo: STAR

Amid escalating violence, the caretaker government yesterday imposed indefinite curfew in six divisional cities from 8:00pm last night and shut down all universities in the country and colleges in the metropolitan cities sine die, asking students to vacate halls.
Prior to ordering the curfew, the caretaker government appealed to all concerned to maintain peace and discipline in public life and refrain from disorderly acts and cautioned stern action against the perpetrators in order to bring back normalcy and protect life and property of the citizens.
The interim government that assumed power through declaration of emergency on January 11 has enforced the curfew in an effort to curb violence, which sparked from Dhaka University campus on Monday evening and started spreading over other educational institutions and adjacent areas across the country.
As students continued clashing with police for the third consecutive day yesterday, many hawkers joined with the agitators and damaged a number of vehicles and launched attack on important government establishments including Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, residence and business house of two advisers in the capital.
The fierce clashes from the campuses spilled over into the cities, leaving scores of people wounded and one person dead on the Rajshahi University campus.
In such a situation, the government, for the first time in last 16 years since restoration of democracy through a mass upsurge in 1990, was compelled to shut down all universities in the country and colleges in all metropolitan cities to quell the situation. It also asked the students to vacate the halls by 8:00pm last night.
"The caretaker government did not have any other alternatives, but to take these decisions," Law Adviser Mainul Hosein told journalists after a high profile meeting that took the urgent decision.
"The government has imposed curfew in the capital and five other divisional headquarters to control the prevailing law-and-order situation, maintain peace in public life and protect life and property of the people,” said a government a press note.
"All universities in the country and colleges in the six divisional cities have been shut down until further order. All dormitories of the educational institutions have also been shut down and the students of the universities and colleges have been asked to vacate their dormitories by 8 tonight [Wednesday]," said an official handout after the meeting.
Mobile phone networks of all operators were switched off after 6:00pm.
From the time of enforcement of curfew, movement of people living in the metropolitan cities -- Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet, will be restricted according to the law that says no person present within cities or areas specified in the curfew order, be out of doors except under the authority of a written permit granted by a specified authority or person.
"If any person contravenes, any order made under this section, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year or with fine or with both," says the law.
Earlier on the night of declaration of the state of emergency over the political crisis on January 11 suspending all fundamental rights as described in the constitution, the authorities imposed a six hour curfew from 11:00pm to 5:00am in all metropolitan cities and district headquarters.
On the next day, January 12, Fakhruddin Ahmed assumed the office of the chief adviser and the curfew was withdrawn allowing normal public life.
Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed yesterday afternoon chaired a high-level emergency meeting at his office with his cabinet colleagues to review the overall situation, as more and more campuses turned into battlefields on the third day of the violence triggered from DU campus.
Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed and chiefs of different forces and agencies attended the meeting, where the course of action was charted.
Following the government decision, the home ministry last evening issued notification over the enforcement of the curfew and asked the divisional administration to enforce the curfew from 8:00pm.
Police administration of the metropolitan cities started announcing the enforcement of the curfew through loud speakers.
People started rushing for home on receiving the news about the enforcement of curfew. Students also started leaving the dormitories.
GOVT APPEAL & WARNING
Earlier on the day, the government in a handout appealed to all concerned to maintain peace and discipline in public life and refrain from disorderly acts, damaging property and disrupting public life.
“If this unlawful act continues, the government will be compelled to take stern action against the perpetrators to bring back normalcy and protect life and property of the citizens,” said the handout.
Following the demand of Dhaka University students, the army camp at the campus playground has already been withdrawn and initiative has been taken to form a judicial inquiry committee headed by a retired High Court judge to investigate the untoward incidents, it said.
Actions will also be taken against those responsible on the basis of the army inquiry committee report, it said.
Despite these measures, the handout said, a section of people are engaged in causing damage to public and private properties in Dhaka and some other places of the country. “It has been observed that non-students are taking part in these rowdy and anarchic acts. These cannot be allowed to continue,” it said.

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