March 3, 2017 - 10:52am
The protest staged by North South University students over the assault on one of their own by a Bashundhara Group security guard was rather violently shut down by police.
Following their usual fight fire with fire ideology, law enforcers defused the protest at Bashundhara on Thursday by unleashing a couple of rounds of tear shells and using water cannons to disperse the students from the roads.
The conflict began at around 10pm on Wednesday, when Bashundhara guards accosted Shahriar Hasnat Topu, a student in his sixth semester at North South University (NSU), for parking his motorbike in front of Apollo Hospital.
Shahriar was first taken to Apollo Hospital in critically injured condition and moved to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He was discharged around 2:30am.
When news of the attack began to spread, NSU students residing in Bashundhara took to the streets and attacked the guards.
By early Thursday morning, the incident had triggered major backlash on social media and things had escalated into full blown protest which eventually culminated in a showdown between police and students.
Around 10am on Thursday, NSU students, along with students from Independent University, Bangladesh, staged a protest rally throughout the Bashundhara Residential Area, protesting the assault.
Wielding banners and chanting slogans, the students blocked the major thoroughfares of the residential area.
At around 12:30pm, police were deployed in the area and rather violently forced the protesters away from the main roads. Rapid Action Battalion was also called in to aid in subduing the students.
Angered and agitated, some students vandalised the Bashundhara head office, demanding an apology from the Bashudhara Group security guard.
Others blocked major choke points on Pragati Sarani, resulting in severe tailbacks on the Uttara-Badda-Rampura route for two hours.
One BBA student said: “This is injustice. Topu was badly injured. No security guard should wield such power that he can beat a student like this and get away with it. We want justice for Topu.”
Not all students were on the same page, however. While many expressed their support of the students, a good number decried the violence and the inconvenience resulting from the protest.
Another NSU BBA student said this was an extreme case and Topu had to have done something wrong for the security guard to react in this manner.
The Bashundhara Group’s intervention cooled down the heated clash somewhat.
Basundhara Group Media Advisor (Press and Media) Mohammad Abu Tayeb told the Dhaka Tribune: “The alleged person was not one of our security guards. He was an Ansar man. However, we will bear the injured student’s medical costs since this unfortunate incident happened in our area.”
The group has also said they will give strict instructions to their security guards to treat all students with appropriate respect.
Refuting Tayeb’s claim, however, NSU Public Relation Office’s Deputy Director Belal Ahmed said: “The residential area is controlled by Bashundhara Group. They monitor everything via CCTV. They can find out who the real culprit is. It cannot be the Ansar force, since they are only deployed when a VIP arrives in the area.”
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Mostak Ahmed said: “We are looking into the matter. Once our investigation is complete, we can say whether the accused is from Ansar or part of Basundhara’s security force.”
The NSU authorities’ notice board said the Bashundhara Group had met with the university and the DMP and had agreed to take action against the accused security guards. It also stated that DMP have been advised to take legislative actions.
Abu Tayeb, the Basundhara Group media advisor, denied that DMP would be taking legal action against the group.
NSU authorities have posted a notice stating classes and exams scheduled for March 3 have been postponed. The make-up schedule will be announced later. Classes and exams of Independent University of Bangladesh were also suspended on Thursday.