Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Quota protests: Three organisers detained, blindfolded by police

  • Dhaka University Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-04-16 15:30:01 BdST


Detective Branch police have detained, questioned and released three leaders of the quota reform protests after they called a press conference and delivered an ultimatum to dismiss the cases over the demonstrations within two days.

The ‘Council for the Preservation of Bangladesh General Students’ Rights’ held a press conference in front of the Dhaka University Central Library at 11am on Monday and stated all cases over the clashes on campus and the attack on the vice chancellor’s house must be dismissed or the protesters would take to the streets once again.

Detective Branch police detained three joint conveners of the ‘Council’, Nurul Haque Nur, Farooq Hasan and Muhammad Rashed Khan, from the Dhaka University area immediately after the press conference, claimed convener Hasan Al Mamun.

“They were brought in for questioning as part of the investigation and were released, Detective Branch Police Joint Commissioner Abdul Baten told bdnews24.com.

The three had been taken in order to scrutinise reports of violence during the protests, the police official said.

“They were called to scrutinise video footage from the attack on the VC’s house for the purposes of the investigation. They have been released.”

“The baseless cases filed against thousands of protesters must be dismissed within the next two days,” protest joint convener Nurul Haque Nur had said at the press conference before he was taken by police for questioning. “If not, the students will once again take to the streets in protest.”

Regular students were the leaders of these protests, he said.

“Do not harass the protesters. We will resume our demonstrations if they are harassed.”

Emerging from the DB office, protest leaders briefed the media in front of the DU Central Library on how police detained and later blindfolded them.

The DB police detained the three joint conveners of the council from Dhaka Medical College Hospital at around 1:25pm.

“While we were at the hospital to visit the injured protesters, they dragged us into a microbus. Some were waiting on three or four motorbikes,” said Haque.

“They covered our heads in helmets and blindfolded us when the microbus reached the Gulistan area. Later, they removed the blindfolds and we realised that we were in the DB office,” he said.

The police released the protesters with a warning that “we would be called whenever needed.”

Rashed Khan, another joint convener, said his father has been arrested by police in Jhinaidah.

He alleged that the police misbehaved with his father who is a day labourer, and pressured him to divulge some information linking his son to Jamaat-e-Islami or its student wing.

Khan, a student of banking and insurance at Dhaka University, said, “We are helpless. Why can we not speak for justice?  What was the fault of my father?

When contacted, Inspector Emdadul Haque, chief of Jhenaidah Police Station, said a story was published in the Daily Ittefaq that Rashed was an activist of Jamaat-e-Islami. His father was released after “necessary interrogation”, Haque said.

The protesters clashed with police and Bangladesh Chhatra League over the night of Apr 8 on the campus after being removed from Shahbagh intersection.

They were demanding the 56 percent quotas be brought down to 10 percent in public service recruitments.

The vice-chancellor’s house was also attacked during the clashes. The university authorities and police have started five cases over the incidents.

On Apr 11, students of higher educational institutions throughout the country took to the street, halting traffic on major highways and key streets in Dhaka.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told parliament  she would rather have the quota system abolished than see students create chaos, miss classes and cause public suffering.

The protesters postponed their demonstration the following day, demanding a swift gazette notification on the abolishment of quotas in government jobs.

The protesters organised another news conference on Monday morning demanding withdrawal of the cases, and the Ittefaq report which alleged four of the protest leaders were members of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.

One of the four leaders, Farooq said they would stop reading the newspaper from Tuesday if the report was not withdrawn.

Rashed said they were victims of a false propaganda.

Convenor Mamun said he was a leader of BCL at Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall and his father was a freedom fighter.

“Please ask the freedom fighters of Jhenaidah about my family. They will tell you what our ideal is,” he said.

Later, the Bangla daily withdrew the story from its online version and apologised if the report hurt someone.