Protest met with police brutality
Police yesterday used brute force to crush a demonstration against their failures to make any arrest over the Pahela Baishakh sexual assault on women.
About a hundred protesters came under police attack near Officers Club on Shaheed Captain Mansur Ali Sarani as they tried to lay a siege to the DMP headquarters.
They were beaten up with truncheons, helmets and rifle butts while some, including female protesters, were kicked and knocked to the ground.
About 34 suffered injuries and 19 of them took treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Five activists were picked up from the spot.
Rights, cultural and left activists and students have been agitating for punishment to the culprits behind the broad-daylight sexual harassment of women on Dhaka University campus during the Nababarsha celebration.
Bangladesh Chhatra Union, which has been at the forefront of the protests, organised the demonstration yesterday. It is pressing for a six-point demand, including punishment of the cops for neglecting duty.
Police haven't even named a suspect, let alone arresting any, though the place where the molestation took place was covered by 22 CCTV cameras.
Yesterday, as the demonstrators reached near the Officers' Club around 12:45pm marching in a procession from the TSC, their advance towards the DMP headquarters was obstructed by a human-wall of over a hundred policemen.
The protesters demanded DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah meet them there to talk about developments, if any, in the probe into the April 14 sexual assault.
The situation turned volatile around 1:00pm when a constable disconnected the loudspeaker used by the protesters. With this, the cops swung into action. Apart from baton-charging and beating, police used water cannon and fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters.
The agitators tried to fight back by hurling brickbats.
Of the five activists picked up, three were seen being slapped, kicked, scolded and clubbed while being dragged to police van. Cops kept torturing the detainees though a policeman, possibly an officer, was shouting for restraints.
BCU President Hasan Tarec put the number of injured at 34 at a press conference held at DU Madhur Canteen later yesterday.
“Police attacked our peaceful protests without any provocation,” said Tarec before calling for a daylong strike tomorrow at all educational institutions across the country.
DU chapter BCU President Liton Nandi, who first reported the April 14 mass molestation of women, said a victim of the police clubbing eyesight being hit in the back of his head yesterday.
“We assured police of ending the demonstration if the DMP commissioner sees us and promises action against the culprits behind the Nababarsha incident,” Nandi told journalists.
A 44-second-video shot by The Daily Star shows how violent the cops were while attacking the protesters. A policeman got his truncheon broken after using it to hit a youth in the head indiscriminately.
A cop was pushing a female demonstrator to the ground, as seen in another 3:42-minute-vidoe posted on Facebook.
Abdul Baten, deputy commissioner of DMP Ramna division, told reporters that police used water canon and teargas canisters to disperse the mob as they were causing public sufferings by blocking the road.
Protesters were asked to free the road and send their representatives to the DMP headquarters to convey their demands but they ignored it, he said.