Day-long clashes between shopkeepers in Dhaka’s New Market area, students of the adjacent Dhaka College and the local police left one person dead and over 50 injured.
Nahid Hasan, 23, who worked as a deliveryman for a courier service in the Elephant Road area, succumbed to his injuries in the hospital on Tuesday.
Among the injured were eight reporters who were attacked during the clashes. Four of them are receiving treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Highlighting the government’s concern, Education Minister Dipu Moni said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the state to treat the injured, especially the students. All necessary steps have been taken to ensure the advanced treatment of Mosharraf Hossain, a critically injured student of Dhaka College, at a specialised hospital, she added.
The Prime Minister also questioned the police’s firing on students, she added.
Dhaka Metropolitan police authority on Tuesday said: “Legal action will be taken if the traders file any complaints.”
According to witnesses, several cocktail explosions and attacks on the public continued daylong on Tuesday. The students also burnt wood on the roads during the clashes. A number of police personnel had rushed to the spot in a riot van, around three hours after the violence broke out.
As per officials, the clash began around Monday midnight. They rushed to the spot and lobbed tear gas shells to bring the situation under control. However, some of the officials suffered injuries in the process, as the students began hurling brickbats at them.
Traffic movement on Mirpur Road remained suspended, due the clashes, for over two hours till 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday.
Speaking to IANS, the police said that a dispute between two eateries in the New Market area led to the clashes A group of Dhaka College students then got involved in the argument which finally resulted in a deadly clash.
The workers and the students clashed for nearly two and a half hours during the wee hours of Tuesday before the police dispersed them using tear gas and rubber bullets. However, the fight resumed in the morning, further crippling Dhaka’s slow Ramadan traffic.
Different journalist organisations, including the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) condemned the attack on journalists and demanded the immediate arrest of the attackers. They also demanded compensation and necessary treatment of the victims.
Nazrul Islam Mithu, President of DRU, and Nurul Islam Hasib, General Secretary, DRU opined that attacking journalists is not acceptable, especially while they are on duty.
BFUJ President Omar Faruk, Secretary General Dip Azad, and DUJ president Sohel Haider Chowdhury said those who attack journalists on duty are “nothing short of terrorists”.
Assistant Commissioner Sharif Mohammad Faruquzzaman said that the violence eased in the afternoon and stopped for a while in the evening, during Iftar. However, the traders started demonstrating again around 7.45 p.m. while the students had gathered outside the Dhaka College campus. The police had to resort to a baton charge to disperse the storekeepers.
According to the injured journalists, both parties involved in the clashes assaulted them whenever they tried to take photographs or video footage of the violence.
A photojournalist, who was attacked by the students, said: “They pushed me to the ground and beat me up with sticks and iron rods while I was taking photos. When I told them I was a college alumnus, they let me go. But then I saw, they began thrashing another journalist, Hasan Reza. I, somehow, managed to save him and get ourselves out of there.”
Shaheen Ahmed, president of the New Market Shop Owners’ Association, said that the workers of the two eateries, Capital Hostel and Welcome, fought over the ownership of a place to sell Iftar items on Monday evening.
“They scuffled at one stage. An employee of Welcome then called some Dhaka College students he was acquainted with. Now things have gone this far,” Shaheen told IANS.
A group of 10-12 students were assaulted by the workers of Capital Hostel when they came to support workers of Welcome which finally led to the daylong violent clash, he added.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Opposition Jatiya Party, GM Quader, has condemned the attack on media personnel. Calling upon the law enforcers, he demanded strict action against those who are violating the sanctity of Ramadan and committing acts of terrorism and anarchy.