On September 5, 38 students were picked up by people identifying themselves as members of the Detective Branch from different parts of the capital, according to the students' parents. While 26 of those picked up were eventually released, 12 were allegedly still in custody. In this time these students have not been produced before a court of law, and questions by concerned parents have been met with ambiguous answers.
Families of the 12 students held a press conference on September 9, but even then there has been no clear response from DB officials. What horrifies us more is the parents' claim that their wards have been tortured in custody, which has been confirmed by some of those who have been released. One student was beaten after his hands and legs were tied up and had to be hospitalised after release, said a parent.
And, what exactly is the crime these students are accused of? Reportedly, the students were questioned about their involvement in the quota reform and road safety movements. It has been pointed out that some of those still in custody were not even in Dhaka during the protests. But more importantly, since when is participating in protests and movements a crime in this country? Why should students be harassed and hounded if they exercise their basic rights? As reports continue to show, protesters for quota reform and road safety continue to be harassed, even those out on bail.
The fact that the brother of one of those still allegedly in custody was among those released gives sufficient credence to the claims of these parents. Why is law enforcement silent? It is their duty to justify the logic behind these arrests, investigate why there was a failure in producing them before the court in due time, ensure accountability and take responsibility for the torture these students underwent. If true, what justified the physical and mental trauma that these students were put through? The government should intervene to stop the criminalising of people for their supposed involvement in protests which the government itself publicly has declared to be logical.