1 Year of Road Safety Demo: 22 students still tangled up in cases
Students who took to the streets last year for safer roads could not achieve what they had set out to do, but now many of them have to appear before courts almost every month as the police accused them of vandalism.
As the cases filed against them are still being investigated, those who were arrested during the demonstrations, including 22 private university students, are having to appear in court.
The cases are affecting their studies and work as well, they said.
They are particularly frustrated as they don’t know when the investigations may complete.
“I’m always in fear. If I don’t attend a hearing, a warrant will be issued for me,” said Saber Ahmed, a business student of the Asian University, who was accused in a case filed with Vatara Police Station.
Saber, who lives in Bashundhara area, has to attend court hearings in old Dhaka every month.
Sometimes his exams coincided with the hearings, making it difficult for him to appear at both places on the same day.
Some of the accused students would appear before a Dhaka court today.
Another accused Iktidar Hossain Ayon of the Southeast University said, “We are innocent. We hope police would submit the investigation report soon and relieve us.
“Being accused in a case means it is difficult for you to get certain jobs or go abroad.”
Some of the accused students said they didn’t even join the protests.
During and after the protest, more than 100 people, mostly students of private universities and colleges, have been rounded up in around 60 cases in the capital alone over “causing violence and spreading rumours”, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The cases were filed against several thousand unidentified students and young people for assaulting police, damaging government properties and obstructing law enforcers from discharging duties.
Police in Badda and Vatara filed cases in which the FIRs mentioned the names of 32, including the 22 students.
The rest were picked up from Kotwali, Dhanmondi, Paltan, Shahbagh, Uttara, Ramna and New Market areas between August 4 to 6.
However, the alleged ruling party men who attacked the protesters and beat them up on the streets were never brought to justice.
Alleged pro-AL men aided by police had pounced on demonstrators, prompting students to turn violent in some places including Jhigatola, Dhanmondi, Science Lab intersection, Bashundhara, Uttara and Mirpur.
In many cases, such attacks happened in front of the police, as seen in videos and photos published in the media. In other video clips, police and the attackers, some wearing helmets and carrying sticks, metal bars and machetes, were seen launching joint attacks on the protesters.
Some others were seen firing gunshots during running battles with the students. But no action has been taken so far against them.
Besides, 22 cases were filed under the then section 57 of the ICT act for “spreading rumour and sharing provocative posts” on social media centring the nationwide student protest. Noted photographer Shahidul Alam was among the arrestees. Investigations of all these cases except two are yet to complete.
“MY SON IS INNOCENT”
Pharmacy graduate Jahidul Haque Anik’s mother has always been worried about his future since a case was filed against him with Badda Police Station.
“He is our only son. If he is accused in criminal cases, how will he fulfil our dreams?” said his mother Jahanara Haque, who lives in Cumilla.
“I raised my son with utmost care. I know that he is innocent,” she added.
Anik said he was picked up by police from in front of Southeast University’s campus in Banani right after he attended a class on August 6 morning when there was no protest or violence in that area.
He added that he was first taken to Banani Police Station along with several others. Later, those who had jobs were freed while the students were kept there. At night, Anik along with four other Southeast University students were taken to Badda Police Station where they were accused in a case.
“They picked us up from Kakoli area, but in the FIR, they mentioned that we were picked up from Badda during violence at the East West University. There are CCTV footages and proof of my class attendance on that day.”
NO IDEA WHEN THE INVESTIGATION WILL COMPLETE
Officers investigating the Badda and Vatara cases said they don’t know when the investigations would complete.
Asked if they have found any allegations to be true against the accused students, Sub-inspector Julhas Mia of Badda Police Station, who is investigating the case, said “It can’t be said before we complete the investigation.”
SI Hasan Masud of Vatara Police Station said similar things when asked about the cases.