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Students, traders fight pitched battle

Journos among 50 injured in clashes in New Market area

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 20 April, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Students, traders fight pitched battle
Students of Dhaka College clash with traders in New Market area of the capital on Tuesday. – Reaz Ahmed Sumon

The entire New Market area in the capital turned into a battleground as students of Dhaka College and traders were locked in sporadic clashes on Tuesday, leaving at least 50 people, including some journalists, injured.

All the shops on Mirpur Road, stretching from Nilkhet intersection to Science Lab, remained closed while vehicular movement suspended throughout the day following the clashes that ensued in the early hours over a trifling matter.

Witnesses said Dhaka College students carrying sticks and rods took to the streets around 10:30am and started hurling brickbats at the traders. Soon afterwards, traders of New Market came out of their shops and encountered the students with bamboo sticks and other locally made weapons.

Students, however, said they came out to hold a peaceful human chain protesting an attack on their fellows by the traders on Monday night.

They claimed that the traders attacked their procession with brickbats at the Nilkhet intersection, following which a clash erupted.

Several journalists and camerapersons of Bangla Tribune and Deepto TV were attacked by traders while covering the incident.

The traders alleged that the journalists were not reporting the ‘true facts about the clash’.

Reporters and camerapersons of Deepto TV, Somoy TV and SATV were injured in the clash. They came under attack while covering the clash. Some of them were beaten up while some were hit by brick chips thrown by the students and traders.

Deepto TV reporter Asif Zaman Sumit was assaulted by some shopkeepers of New Market around 12:00pm. Shahed Shafiq, senior reporter of Bangla Tribune, Shuvro Dev of Manab Zamin and Kabir Hossain, a senior cameraperson of SATV, were also attacked as they tried to save Sumit.

The other injured journalists are Ajker Patrika reporter Al Amin Razu, RTV cameraperson Sumon Dey, My TV reporter Danny Drong, SATV reporter Tuhin, Somoy TV reporter Bulbul Reza and The Daily Star photographer Prabir Das.

Kabir Hossain alleged that he came under attack by traders when he was covering the event. His camera was also damaged during the attack.

Meanwhile, a group of students allegedly set a shop on fire at Nurjahan Market, opposite to Dhaka College, around 1:30pm, according to witnesses.

On information, two fire-fighting units went there and doused the flame, said Lima Khanam, duty officer at the Fire Service and Civil Defence central control room.

An ambulance carrying a patient was vandalised near the New Market footbridge around 11:45am.

A dying patient was being taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) by the ambulance from Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital in the capital. When they reached New Market around 12 noon, the students stopped the ambulance. But they allowed it to move as there was a patient inside.

When the ambulance reached Chandrima Super Market, the traders stopped it. At that time, they suddenly started attacking the ambulance. The driver of the vehicle showed the documents but the traders did not give up. At that time, the patient inside pleaded for help but no one listened to him.

Jahangir, ambulance driver, said, “I had an emergency patient in my ambulance. I was taking him from Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. When I asked the students, they let the ambulance go. But the traders vandalised my ambulance without any reason. I begged for help showing papers, but they didn’t pay any heed to this.”

Police arrived at the spot around 1:30pm with an armoured vehicle and water cannon to bring the situation under control.

DMP Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam said, “Not just New Market, workers from all the nearby markets joined the clash. The situation is not as simple as it seems. Police are trying to deal with the students delicately.”

Students returned to the campus after police fired teargas canisters. Traders took position on the streets. Students kept throwing brickbats from inside their college. Traders also threw brickbats in retaliation.

At least 40 injured persons, including seven journalists, took treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), said Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of DMCH Police Outpost.

Protesting the attack on fellows, students of different educational institutions, including Dhaka University and Eden Mohila College, staged demonstration d in New Market and Nilkhet areas.

When the students of Eden College wanted to go to Dhaka College with a protest procession, the traders of New Market obstructed them. The students took position at Nilkhet junction in the face of obstruction. About 100 students took part in the protest. They chanted slogans against the New Market traders and shop employees.

Several Eden College students alleged that traders often misbehave with them when they go for shopping in the New Market area. Many of them even verbally abuse them and sexually harass them during bargaining.

It is learnt that after the situation became somewhat normal, the students started hitting brickbats again when the traders provoked them. Police fired teargas shells again to bring the situation under control.

Students and traders in the New Market area chased each other again around 4:00pm. The students claimed that police fired teargas shells and rubber bullets inside the Dhaka College campus from in front of the main gate.

The students said police fired at least 10 rounds of teargas shells and rubber bullets around 4:30pm, leaving five students injured.

The Dhaka College authorities announced that all academic activities will remain suspended from Tuesday till May 5, asking the students to vacate the dorms by the afternoon.

However, the students rejected the decision, saying they will stay at halls at any cost.

They announced the decision around 4:15pm at Shaheed ANM Najib Uddin Khan Khurram Auditorium.

The students chanted slogans demanding removal of their principal and action against police firing.

Fuad Hasan, joint convener of Dhaka College Chhatra League, said, “If necessary, we’ll die. However, we won’t leave the campus. We’ll continue the movement until those attacked the general students are brought to justice. We’ve urged the principal to resolve it. If he can’t, we’ll demand his resignation.”

Ismail Samrat, the main coordinator of the seven-college movement, said students rejected the decision to close college and halls. They will stay on the streets and announced a demonstration in Nilkhet area at 11:00am on Wednesday.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, “Our security forces have been monitoring the situation and taking action with utmost patience. We heard that some people were injured in the clashes.”

The violence started over a minor incident. The injured journalists, students and traders were taken to hospitals for primary treatment, he said.

Asaduzzaman said police are on the spot and the inspector general of police is monitoring the entire situation. “We think it’ll cool down after a while. Those who did this will surely face the law,” he added.

Leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) and Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) demanded immediate arrest of those responsible for the attack on journalists during the clashes.

“Those who attacked journalists during their professional duties are terrorists,” said the leaders of the journalist bodies.

High speed mobile internet service has been suspended in New Market area. According to the mobile operators, the service was suspended after 4:15pm.

Background

The clash between the Dhaka College students and New Marker traders started around 12am. The situation persisted for around two and a half hours with chases and counter chases taking place during the time. Police then dispersed the crowd using rubber bullets. Several students were severely injured during that time.

However, the reason behind the clash is still not clear.

Several Dhaka College students claimed that one of their classmates was attacked by the traders of New Market on Monday night. Protesting the incident, hundreds of students from the campus rushed to the spot and attacked the marketplace with locally made weapons.

On the other hand, the shop owners said some students of Dhaka College came to eat at a fast-food shop in New Market. An altercation ensued as they reportedly tried to leave without paying the bill. At one point, the students started attacking and vandalising the shops, they added.