Quota reform movement in Bangladesh: Police disperse citizens' demo
12:00 AM, July 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:42 PM, July 04, 2018

Quota Reform Movement

Just arrest!

Police disperse citizens' demonstration

Not only there has been no action against the BCL men who beat up quota reformists at different universities, a group of citizens who tried to stage a peaceful protest against the attacks were dispersed in police action yesterday.

Police barred demonstrators from holding an event called to protest the continued attacks, torture and arrest of quota reform activists in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday afternoon.

They snatched away the banner, picked up two of the participants and manhandled a Dhaka University teacher. However, the detainees -- writer and anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed, and former student leader Baki Billah -- were released later.

Outraged, the organisers now demand investigation into the police action, judicial inquiry into the attacks on quota reform campaigners and punishment of the perpetrators.

To press these demands, there will be a rally on the same venue at 4:00pm on Friday, said Supreme Court lawyer Hasnat Quaiyum, one of the organisers.  

Under the banner of "Udbigno Obhibhabok O Nagorik” (worried guardians and citizens), parents, rights activists, teachers and eminent citizens were scheduled to hold the protest rally at 4:00pm.

Before the event started, around a hundred policemen gathered on the venue with armoured personnel carriers and prison vans.

“Just arrest whoever tries to take position here,” Azimul Haque, additional deputy commissioner of police (Ramna Division), told his men as the demonstrators tried to assemble in front of the press club around 4:10am yesterday.

The ADC was leading the police team there. 

The law enforcers drove away some protesters including Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolon, and Saiful Haque, general secretary of Revolutionary Workers' Party of Bangladesh.

At one point, police tried to force a demonstrator into a prison van but failed in the face of protest. Minutes later, they picked up Baki Billah and put him inside the van.

Rahnuma Ahmed, a former teacher at Jahangirnagar University, and Prof Fahmidul Haq of Dhaka University tried to stop police from taking away Baki and got on the prison van to talk to the officers.

Police also attempted to detain Fahmidul but fellow protesters managed to move him away. He was manhandled by some policemen even after he gave his identity and ADC Azimul was heard saying, “The person has to be arrested as he damaged the prison van.”

Police, however, could take away Rahnuma and Baki though other protesters tried to stop them. The two were released after around 40 minutes from Ramna Police Station.

Later, the protesters stood near the venue with placards for some time and talked to journalists.

SC lawyer Hasnat Quaiyum said they also demand release of all the detainees and withdrawal of “false cases”, return of “missing students” to parents, state-sponsored treatment for the injured and a gazette notification in the shortest possible time after “logical reforms” of quota system in civil service.

A demonstrator, Nazrul Islam Talukder, said his son and daughter came under attacks at the Central Shaheed Minar on Monday. He demanded the government immediately meet the demands of “my children”.

Zonayed Saki of Ganosamhati Andolon said they wanted to hold a peaceful programme but police did not allow it. “We strongly condemn this.”

ADC Azimul refused to make any comment. 

Maruf Hossain Sarder, deputy commissioner of police (Ramna Division), told this newspaper that they did not allow the programme as the demonstrators did not have the permission.

“We had information that something untoward might happen during the programme as miscreants could create chaos after joining it. However, we later allowed them to gather there as some eminent persons came to join it.”

Zafrullah Chowdhury, Anu Muhammad, Moshrefa Mishu, Tanjim Uddin Ahmed and Jyotirmoy Barua were among the participants. 

After around an hour, the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) held a programme in front of the Jatiya Press Club on the same issue and police allowed them.

Addressing the programme, leaders of the two left parties demanded action against the attackers on the quota reform campaigners.


Also yesterday, students and teachers formed human chains at different universities demanding justice for Bangladesh Chhatra League's assaults on quota reform activists since Saturday.

In another development, injured quota movement leader Faruk Hassan was sent to jail after police showed him arrested in a case filed on April 11 and produced him before a Dhaka Court.

Humyan Kabir, inspector of Special Branch of police, filed the case accusing 30 to 40 unidentified people for torching his motorcycle during a quota demo.

Faruk remained traceless since BCL men took him away on a motorcycle after beating him up at the Central Shaheed Minar on Monday morning, alleged his family and fellow protesters.

Though BCL men claimed that they handed him over to police later in the day, law enforcers disclosed his arrest yesterday afternoon.

Minutes before police made the arrest public, his elder brother Ariful Islam told The Daily Star that they went to Shahbagh, New Market and Ramna police stations and the office of Detective Branch looking for him but got no response.

Faruk had no lawyer in court representing him yesterday.

Two demonstrators, Tariqul Islam and Jasim, who were held on Monday, were sent to jail yesterday after detectives produced them before a court in connection with the case, according to Shahbagh police.

Also on Monday, another leader Muhammad Rashed Khan was granted a five-day remand a day after police arrested him in Bhasantek area.

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