The whole area turned into a battleground after a fresh clash erupted between them around 10:00am as a sequel to a clash Monday midnight. COURTESY
• Journalists attacked, ambulance vandalized
• DU, Eden College students protest ‘attack’ on students
• Internet speed slowed down in clash area
• BFUJ, DUJ, DRU demand arrest of attackers of journo
At least 50 people including journalists and students were injured on Tuesday as students of Dhaka College were locked in series of clashes again with traders of New Market at Nilkhet intersection in the capital.
The whole area turned into a battleground after a fresh clash erupted between them around 10:00am as a sequel to a clash Monday midnight, said witnesses.
At least 50 injured people were treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital while a student was taken to Square Hospital.
An argument between storekeepers and Dhaka College students late on Monday night triggered a series of clashes between the two sides. The two camps clashed for nearly two and a half hours at night before police dispersed them using tear shells and rubber bullets.
The clashes resumed on Tuesday morning and continued until the evening, turning the New Market area into a skirmish zone.
Clashes traced back to altercation at eatery
The clashes between students and shopkeepers broke out over an altercation between some Dhaka College students and the staff of an eatery in New Market, according to police as well as students and traders.
“It all started from a food shop near gate No 4 of New Market (on Monday night). Some students had an argument with the employees of the shop, and soon after the students of Dhaka College arrived and launched an attack,” said New Market Shop Owners Association President Shahin Ahmed.
“The students also tried to commit arson and looted several shops. If police had not arrived on time, they could have set the market on fire,” he told an online newspaper on Tuesday.
According to witnesses, the altercation erupted over the food bill. “Three students wanted to pay a little less than what was charged there at night. At one point ,the shop staff attacked and injured them with sharp weapons,” Dhaka College student Shakhawat Hossain said.
“The students vandalized [shops] after the news spread. “I later came to know that 15 people had been injured, and seven of them were students who had been shot,” he said while speaking to the online outlet.
Deputy Commissioner Shahen Shah of the police’s New Market Zone also connected the skirmishes with an altercation over the bill for a meal.
“A fourth-year student named Mosharrof Hossain of the management department was critically injured in the incident and admitted to the ICU of Square Hospital. The students took to the streets again on Tuesday morning over that,” he said.
The clash initially erupted just after midnight after three students were assaulted by shopkeepers following an altercation, said media reports quoting Dhaka College students. A number of shops were vandalized and several traders were also physically assaulted in the attack.
The situation persisted for around two and a half hours with running battles taking place during the period on the Mirpur Road. Traffic came to a halt in the area as both sides set fire to tyres and other objects on the streets. They also threw brickbats at each other. Police had to fire tear gas to quell the violence. Around 2:30am, the students went back to their campus and the traders returned home, police said.
The Dhaka College authorities later suspended all academic activities for Tuesday. Soon after, fresh clashes erupted between Dhaka College students and New Market traders in the morning.
Witnesses reported running battles between students and shopkeepers with crude bombs being exploded. All shops in New Market and its surrounding areas were closed, said police.
Journalists attacked, ambulance vandalized
At least 11 journalists have been injured while covering the clashes in progress between Dhaka College students and traders in the New Market area of the capital.
Journalists who have been attacked include Ajker Patrika Correspondent Al Amin Raju, The Daily Star Photographer Prabir Das, Dhaka Post Senior Reporter Jasim Uddin Mahi, Multimedia Reporter Iklachur Rahman, Deepto TV Correspondent Asif Sumit, RTV Cameraperson Sumon Dey, My TV Correspondent Danny Drong, Jago News Reporter Touhiduzzaman Tanmoy, and Manabzamin Photojournalist Jiban.
The injured journalists said both the students and shop employees targeted them whenever they tried to take photographs and videos of the clash on Tuesday (19 April).
Among them, Al Amin Raju and Prabir Das were reportedly beaten with hockey sticks by helmet-wearing market staffers.
Meanwhile, Touhiduzzaman Tanmoy, Jasim Uddin and Jiban were affected by the tear gas fired by the police. Around 12pm, Deepto TV Reporter Asif Zaman Sumit was assaulted by some shopkeepers of New Market.
While trying to save Sumit, Shahed Shafiq, senior reporter of Bangla Tribune, Shuvro Dev of Manab Zamin and Kabir Hossain, a senior camera person of SATV, were also attacked.
Shahed Shafiq said: “We were covering the news from a distance when we saw Deepta TV reporter Sumit was being attacked. When we tried to save him, the New Market shopkeepers attacked us too.”
An ambulance with a patient inside was vandalized near the New Market foot-overbridge around 11:45am. Several people from either side were left injured in the skirmishes.
Police finally arrived at the spot around 12:50pm with an armoured vehicle and a water cannon to put an end to the violence, according to media reports.
Fresh clashes erupted between Dhaka College students and New Market traders on Tuesday morning following the confrontation in the wee hours of the day.
Witnesses have reported running battles between students and shopkeepers with crude bombs being exploded.
Around 10:30 am, students of the college came out on the streets to hold a human-chain protest against the alleged attack of traders on students. New Market shop workers gathered on the streets soon after.
According to students, traders attacked their procession with brickbats at the Nilkhet intersection, following which the two sides, armed with sticks, iron bars and brickbats clashed with each other. But their presence drew shopkeepers onto the streets and the two sides, armed with staffs, rods and brickbats, squared off again.
Thousands of workers gathered on the road while Dhaka College students took up positions in front of the college gate and on the roofs of their residential halls.
The two sides hurled brickbats and fought running battles on the street with explosions being heard in the area from time to time.
Police arrived at the scene around 12:50 pm with an armoured vehicle and a water cannon to quell the violence.
DU, Eden College students protest ‘attack’ students
Students of different educational institutions, including Dhaka University and Eden Mohila College, took to the street in New Market area today, following the clash between shop employees and Dhaka College students. They said that they were protesting attack on fellow students.
“Shop employees often misbehave with us when we go for shopping in New Market area. Many of them even verbally abuse us and sexually harass us when we try to bargain while shopping,” said a student of Eden College.
“Traders of New Market can’t attack and injure students like this. They often mistreat students during shopping,” said another student.
Some students of Dhaka University demonstrated at the university entrance in Nilkhet. Some media reported that students of several nearby schools and colleges gathered there and shouted slogans against New Market’s traders and shop employees.
Internet speed slowed down
The telecom operators have slowed down internet speed in the capital New Market area as per government instruction to stop further spread of clashes between students and traders.
Sources in the operators said they received an instruction from the ‘authorities’ and stopped ‘hi-speed’ internet in the New Market area from around 4.30pm.
“If a government deems that the closing of the network will help stop the spread of clashes, it could shut the network,” Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar told to media.
“Such decision is taken as many people livestream the clash from the spot using the internet and it add fuel to the clash.”
He said the internet network could be shut, but the customers can make mobile voice calls.
BFUJ, DUJ, DRU demand arrest of attackers of journalists
Leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) and Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) have demanded immediate arrest of those responsible for the attack on journalists during the clash.
“Those who attacked journalists during their professional duties are terrorists,” said leaders of the journalist bodies.
BFUJ President Omar Faruque and Secretary General Dip Azad, and DUJ President Sohel Haider Chowdhury and General Secretary Akter Hossain made the remarks in a joint statement and demanded exemplary punishment of the culprits.
Noting that such incidents also took place for several times in the past, they said this kind of incident is taking place repeatedly as the attackers, who are terrorists, get scot-free with the patronisation of some vested quarters.
These terrorists are the enemy of the country, the nation and the government, the journalist leaders said, adding that they want to gag the voice of news media by attacking on the journalists during their professional duties.
“Such kind of ill-activities must be prevented at any cost,” they said.
The journalist leaders also demanded improved treatment and compensation for the journalists injured during the clash between Dhaka College students and New Market traders.
In an another statement issued Tuesday, DRU President Nazrul Islam Mithu and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib condemned the attack. At the same time, they demanded an immediate arrest of the attackers.