Journalists of The Daily Star, stationed at different points, share their experiences of what happened on the streets in the capital's Dhanmondi area yesterday.
Muntakim Saad, reporter
Around 12:45pm, a procession of road safety campaigners -- mostly university students -- from Shahbagh crossed the Science Lab intersection, and proceeded towards Jhigatola.
As the procession reached Jhigatola, a group of participants split from it, formed a human barricade, and asked the other protesters not to go any further.
Some of them were chanting slogans, protesting the attack on students allegedly by BCL men; some picked up brick chips from the road. At that point, police lobbed tear gas canisters at the protesters.
Students ran away in different directions, and policemen, in groups, entered different lanes of Dhanmondi and Jhigatola, looking for the protesters.
Wherever they saw students, they raised their batons, and shouted at them to leave the spot immediately; some even used slangs against the teenagers. Some students threw brick chips and stones at the police.
A little later, a team of around 50 policemen and Ansar led by Ramna Deputy Commissioner of the DMP Maruf Hossain Sarder started marching from Pilkhana to Science Laboratory. They were asking pedestrians to go home and shopkeepers to close their shops.
When a group of protesters marched towards Star Kabab chanting slogans, police again went on the offensive and lobbed tear gas shells.
After dispersing them, policemen moved towards Popular Hospital, where they interrogated the security guards; some policemen were heard saying that these guards had “helped the protesters yesterday”.
When a customer care officer of the hospital came out, Ramna DC Maruf told him, “Your people are staying outside [the hospital]. Get them inside, or else cases will be filed against you.”
Rashed Shumon, photojournalist
When police fired tear gas canisters at the protesters around 1:00pm, the latter ran for cover. Around 70 journalists and photojournalists tried to stay together when they saw that some students, in panic, had taken the route by the lake (opposite Shimanto Square).
The journalists gave the protesters whatever protection they could, trying to keep them out of harm's way, and also negotiated with the police to let them go.
Being chased by police, students were running in different directions, and that's when alleged BCL men stepped in. A chaos ensued, and the journalists were chased.
A little later, a few photojournalists climbed the footbridge at the Science Lab intersection to take some photos.
As soon as alleged BCL men spotted the photojournalists, they started shouting at them, and then threw bricks and stones at them.
The photographers came down from the footbridge quickly, trying to escape.
Near the police box, alleged BCL men caught freelance photographer Rahat Karim, and first kicked and slapped him. They then kept hitting him repeatedly with sticks, metal rods and electric wires. One of the attackers was carrying a machete.
His T-shirt was torn, and he had blood all over his body.
All this took place in front of policemen who seemed to be mere spectators.
Amran Hossain, photojournalist
Around 2:30pm, police chased the protesters towards Science Lab. Within moments, alleged BCL men appeared on the scene and swooped on the protesters.
As a group of 30 journalists were taking photographs from near the footbridge at the Science Lab intersection, alleged BCL men chased them, forcing them to run towards Jhigatola.
At one point of the chase, the journalists sought shelter from policemen, who had taken position on Dhanmondi Road 2, but didn't get any response.
Suddenly, a group of men threatened us, shouting: “Hey, don't dare take pictures.” They were carrying sticks, metal rods and machetes.
One of the journalists said, “Fine, we won't take any pictures ...”
A female reporter from Channel I, who was standing separately near the group of journalists, was assaulted by those men. They slapped and shoved her. Later, other journalists intervened and moved her away.
Rafiul Islam, Reporter
When police were firing tear gas shells at the road safety campaigners to disperse them around 1:00pm, Awami League men were inside the party office on Dhanmondi Road 3/A.
A group of youths came out of the AL office. Some of them were carrying machetes, metal rods, and sticks. Within a few minutes, another group joined them. They
harassed whoever they suspected as campaigners and also assaulted anyone who tried to take pictures or record videos.
Sheikh Mehedi Morshed, Photographer
At one point after an attack on the protesters, a big group of men, armed with sticks, rods and machetes, were seen moving towards Science Lab. Most of them were wearing helmets.
“I quickly ran and climbed the footbridge at Science Lab intersection. It was empty at that time. I immediately clicked pictures of the group. But they spotted me and shouted at me. Some of them ran towards me with sticks and metal rods.
“I quickly ran down the stairs when two men wearing helmets tried to hit me with rods. I screamed in fright and asked them to let me go. Somehow I escaped with my camera.
“Within a few moments, I saw young freelance journalists Rahat Karim getting beaten up by the men with helmets in the same area. In the chaos, he managed to pass on his camera to one of the senior journalists. Rahat was eventually taken to Popular Hospital for treatment.
“Later, we saw Ahad bhai, an AP photojournalist, coming towards us, bleeding. He was badly beaten up and could hardly stand. A bunch of us ran towards him and brought him to the emergency unit at Labaid Hospital. The attackers broke one of his cameras. Then we decided to take shelter at the hospital.”
Naimul Karim, reporter
It was around 2:30pm. Some people wearing helmets were breaking iron rods from railings of dividers on the road at Science Lab in full sight of police personnel.
“We went ahead on the road that leads to Elephant road from Science Lab. As we walked alongside the footpath we noticed a relatively large group of people trying to walk towards Science Lab, but the police and the men with iron rods prevented them from passing through.”
The group of men with iron rods was threatening almost anyone who tried to take photos or record videos. Even the residents in the surrounding buildings who had come out to their balconies were threatened. The group even threw stones at the balconies of those buildings, trying to scare them to go inside their apartments.