The road safety protesters again came under attack in the capital yesterday, a day after the students had been attacked by police and “ruling party men” in Mirpur.
A group of 30-35 ruling Awami League men beat up some students of University of Liberal Arts in front of its campus-B on Dhanmondi-7/A around 6:00pm, alleged the students.
Sadaat Mahmood, one of the victims, said they rushed to Science Laboratory intersection after hearing the news of an attack on students. But when they returned to the campus, they found some people dragging one of the students who were controlling traffic.
“As I went to save him, they started beating me up. Some tea stall owners came to rescue me, but they were also assaulted,” he told this newspaper.
As a reporter of priyo.com, Pradip Das, was taking photographs of the incident with his mobile phone, the attackers swooped on the journalist and broke his phone. The portal's head of news, Rafiqul Ranju, came to his rescue, but the attackers chased him.
As Rafiqul ran inside his office in front of the ULAB, the attackers rushed in and smashed glasses at the reception, the senior journalist told this correspondent, adding that the attackers were aged between 30 and 35.
Abdul Latif, officer-in-charge of Dhanmondi Police Station, said they sent policemen to the spot after hearing about the incident, but didn't find any of attackers.
Yesterday, the agitating students took to the city streets for the sixth straight day rejecting assurances from several ministers of accepting their demands.
Since it was a weekend, the number of protestors was lower than that of the other days. Many of them were not in uniforms. From the gatherings, they protested Thursday's attack on their fellow agitators in Mirpur and demanded safe roads.
A student of Dhaka Residential Model College said, “You cannot frighten us by carrying out attacks. We will stay on the streets until our demands are met.”
Some students assumed the role of traffic police as they did in the previous five days, controlling traffic. At some places, they were checking driving licences and fitness certificates.
Around 100 students were seen chanting slogans for safe roads while some others were controlling traffic in Dhanmondi-27 area around 11:15am.
They were guiding people to use zebra crossings, telling them to use footpaths and making separate lanes for cars, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, bikes, and ambulances.
Police were seen at the spot. Around 12:15pm, three police officials asked the students to leave the area. However, the protestors stayed there till 1:00pm.
About 40 students took position at Mirpur-10 roundabout around 10:30am. Their number grew with students of some private universities joining them.
After a break for Juma prayers, they returned to the area and started checking driving licence and controlling traffic. They later declared that they would again gather at the spot today.
“We are not enemies of anyone, nor are we acting against anybody. We have come here to press home the demand for safe roads,” said a student.
Around half a kilometre away in front of Sony Cinema, guardians formed a human chain in solidarity with the student movement.
“We are ashamed to see you [students]. You did what we could not do,” read a placard held by one of the participants of the demonstration.
Students, guardians and worried citizens formed human chains and staged demonstrations at different areas in the capital.
Public buses remained off the city streets yesterday, causing suffering to commuters.
In Chittagong, over 500 students from different educational institutions continued their agitation.
Some students gathered in front of Chittagong Press Club in Jamalkhan area at 3:30pm and blocked a lane of the road. Later, more students as well as activists of different left-leaning organisations joined in.
Some students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Chittagong University joined the demonstration to express solidarity with the protestors. Some guardians were also seen expressing solidarity with them.
Students of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University in Tangail's Santosh formed a human chain on the campus in the morning, demanding safe road.
The protest began on Sunday after college students Dia Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib were killed in a road crash in the capital's Kurmitoral area.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, a platform that spearheaded the quota reform movement, yesterday called for a student strike at all educational institutions across the country for today protesting the attacks on children demanding safe roads.
“We urge the government to meet the students' nine-point demand, ensure trial of the attackers and implement the three-point demand of the quota reformists to solve the problem,” Hasan Al Mamun, convenor of the platform, said in a statement.