Batons, teargas not enough
The college students were unarmed while protesting at Shahbagh on Thursday. Nobody saw them damage any vehicles or attack anyone. In fact, police pounced on them with batons and fired teargas shells.
Yet, a case was filed against around 1,200 unnamed students of seven government colleges on charges of attempting to kill policemen, rioting with lethal weapons and damaging property.
Witnesses and students say the allegations are false.
The other charges include obstructing police from discharging duties and holding unlawful assembly.
Some onlookers, who witnessed the protest in Shahbagh, saw no brick chips or sticks, let alone any arms, in the hands of the protesters.
No law enforcers reportedly came under attack or got hurt. But one of the students, Siddiqur Rahman of Titumir College, suffered serious injuries in the eyes when police lobbed a teargas shell on their procession at close range around 11:45am.
Witnesses said it was a peaceful protest of around 500 youths who took position near Shahbagh intersection around 11:30am after forming a human chain in front of the National Museum, demanding announcement of exam schedules of different academic years.
Police asked them to leave as the demonstration was causing traffic congestion. As they refused to obey, police acted tough to disperse them.
Thirteen students were detained from the spot on the allegation of obstructing road and damaging cars though no vehicle was seen damaged by the agitators. They were released yesterday.
The injured, Siddiqur, a third-year student of political science, was being treated at the National Institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) yesterday.
Doctors said the condition of his both eyes was critical and a five-member medical board was formed for his treatment.
Dr Iftekhar Md Munir, an associate professor at NIO, also a member of the medical board, told The Daily Star that the medical team will examine him today.
The physician suspected Siddiqur's eyes were hit by some thick and heavy objects. His eyes and face were swollen due to the injury, Iftekhar added.
The student could not say how he was hurt. After an altercation between students and police, something hit his eyes. He could only feel his eyes were bleeding before he blacked out, a friend quoted him as saying.
Siddiqur, from Tarakanda of Mymensingh, lives at a rented room in Khilkhet.
Police claimed he was wounded by objects thrown by the demonstrators.
In a video available on social media, it was seen that when police were trying to snatch away a banner, a scuffle broke out. Siddiqur was standing aside. When he ran to the front, suddenly a policeman fired teargas and he fell down.
Following the protest on Thursday, the authorities of the colleges -- Dhaka College, Eden Mohila College, Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Mohila College, Mirpur Government Bangla College and Government Titumir College -- announced the exam schedules.
The colleges became affiliated with Dhaka University on February 16.
Talking to The Daily Star on Thursday night, IK Selim Ullah, principal of Kabi Nazrul College, said the decision on exam schedules was taken at a meeting between DU vice-chancellor and principals of the seven colleges on Tuesday and the colleges were supposed to announce the schedules.
Students of third year and master's of 2013-2014 sessions had their registration done but no date of exam was fixed until Tuesday's meeting.
Besides, there was no guideline from the university authorities regarding the exam process although four months have gone since they were affiliated with Dhaka University.
As per the meeting decision, master's final exams are scheduled to begin on September 10, honours third-year exams on October 16 and degree (pass) first and third year exams on November 4.
The meeting also decided to hold degree (pass) first-year exams and master's first year and final year exams for privately registered students between July 25 and August 29.
During a press conference at Madhur Canteen on Dhaka University campus yesterday, the students demanded withdrawal of the case, compensation to Siddiqur Rahman, a policy on the colleges affiliated with the DU and steps to ease session jams.
They said they will go for a tougher movement if the authorities do not take actions against the policemen who attacked students without any provocation.
They also decided to arrange protest programmes at the colleges and stage a rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club today.
Meanwhile in a statement, left organisation Gono Songhoti Andolon condemned the police attack on students.