100 injured in countrywide protests by polytechnic students

Angry students of several polytechnic institutes across the country, including Dhaka, Comilla, Chittagong, Patuakhali, Barisal, Faridpur and Bogra, on Sunday engaged in clashes with law-enforcers, injuring about 100 people. They also vandalised about 40 vehicles and torched at least three vehicles while staging demonstrations across the country for immediate change in the 2008 gazette, which identifies diploma professionals as ‘supervisors’ instead of engineers.
Police fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear-gas shells to control the situation. They also detained nearly 50 persons from different places during the incidents. Section 144 has been imposed in various places, including Bogra, to control the situation.
The students of most polytechnic institutes across the country hit the streets and staged demonstrations boycotting their classes and examinations to meet their two-point demand – elimination of ‘professional discrimination’ against diploma engineers and ‘timely promotion’ of diploma teachers at the polytechnic institutes – both public and private. The unruly students also vandalised more than 40 vehicles and torched three, including a police van and a UNO’s car, in Dhaka, Comilla and Chittagong.
They also blocked roads in Dhaka, Comilla, Chittagong, Patuakhali and Barisal and clashed with law-enforcers.
While a group of students set fire to the land office in Bijoypur Upazila in Comilla, another group kept Fatema Jahan, Comilla Sadar (South) upazila nirbahi officer, confined to Kotbari Tahsil office for several hours.
The students have been demonstrating since September 22 to press home their demands.
In Dhaka, protests began in front of the Tejgaon Polytechnic Institute when about 1,000 students of different institutes gathered there around 8:30am. After half an hour, a chase and counter-chase began with law-enforcers when the agitating students tried to block Satrasta intersection on Tongi Diversion Road.
After being resisted by the law-enforcers, the students vandalised at least four vehicles on the road, said Biplob Kumar Sarker, deputy commissioner (Tejgaon division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Police had to fire several tear-gas shells to bring the situation under control, but the agitated students instantly countered the police by pelting stones at them, turning the whole area into a virtual battlefield.
Traffic movement on the road remained suspended for more than half an hour following the violence. The agitated students instantly brought out a procession but faced police resistance. Then they marched towards Mohammadpur.
The OC of Dhanmondi Police Station, Mohammad Masud Karim, told The Independent, “The students tried to put up a barricade on Road No. 27 in Dhanmondi. As we took action, they vandalised at least 15 vehicles near Rapa Plaza.
In Mirpur-2, students from SAIC Institute of Technology tried to block the road at Mirpur-10 intersection at 10am. The students, later, moved towards Mipur Cricket Stadium, where police deployed several sound grenades to drive them away from the area.
In Comilla, students of Comilla Polytechnic Institute hit the roads in Sadar (South) Upazila from 12:10 pm and torched a police van and a car of the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) in the Kotbari area.
At least 22 people, including eight police personnel, were injured when about 350 students, equipped with firearms, brick chips and bamboo sticks, attacked the law-enforcers.
Raihan Uddin, a police constable, sustained bullet injury during the clash, reports our correspondent, quoting Abdul Hannan, inspector (investigation) of Comilla Sadar (South) Police Station.
Police had to fire 100 rounds of rubber bullets to disperse the marauding students, he added.
On the other hand, a group of students set fire to the land office in Bijoypur Upazila and torched a motorcycle parked in front of it. They kept the UNO of the upazila confined to Kotbari tehsil office till 2:30pm. The marauding students also blocked Chandini Road in front of the Comilla Polytechnic Institute at 12:10pm.
In Patuakhali, at least 60 people were injured as students of Patuakhali Polytechnic Institute clashed with police on the road in front of their campus at  9:30am. The clash began when police resisted a group of polytechnic students from vandalising vehicles, reports our correspondent, quoting Manirul Islam, officer in-charge of Patuakhali Sadar police station.
The students pelted brick chips at police. In retaliation, police fired gunshots and rubber bullets in the air and lobbed tear-gas canisters to disperse the students.
In Chittagong, over 1,000 students of the state-run Nasirabad Polytechnic Institute, along with the students of five to six other polytechnic institutes, put up barricades on the CDA Avenue.
Traffic movement on both sides of the road remained suspended for nearly two hours from 10:30am due to the blockade. During the demonstration, the agitators vandalised 15 vehicles.
In Faridpur, about 3,000 polytechnic students boycotted the examination and started demonstrations on their campuses to press home their demands.
In Bogra, police arrested 11 agitating polytechnic students on Sunday following a demonstration during which the students in question vandalised at least three vehicles in the Colony area of the campus in Bogra. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.
The scheduled examinations of the Bogra Polytechnic Institute could not be held because of the unrest. The students also put up a blockade on the Dhaka-Dinajpur highway in Gokul. The students vandalised a Karatoa gate lock bus and 5/7 CNG-run three-wheelers. Then they blocked the road seeking cancellation of their 2nd year examination. Hundreds of rickshaws, CNG-run autorickshaws, battery-run rickshaws and school buses could not ply because of the protest.
When police rushed to the area to stop their movement, the agitators engaged in a fight with the law-enforces. The administration imposed Section 144 from Thontonia bus stand to Bonani area in the district town. Md. Shafiqur Reza Biswash, deputy commissioner of Bogra, has directed to impose Section 144 in the area.
Additional law-enforcers were deployed in the area to avert any violence, the OC added.
Students of Dinajpur Polytechnic Institute organized a human chain on the sidelines of other agitation programmes in front of their institution at Nimnagar Balubari. The programme disrupted road communication between Dinajpur-Phulbari, but was peaceful.
At the agitation programme, the students vowed not to sit for examination until realisation of their demands.
In Jhenaidah, additional law-enforcers deployed on the campus of Jhenaidah Polytechnic Institute and examinations were postponed sine die. Students locked the gates of their institution and engaged in vandalism on Sunday morning.
Police arrested eight students foe the violence. Executive magistrate Jakir Hossain, deployed on the campus, said the agitating students locked the main gates and the principal’s room at 10am.
Demonstrations were staged on the campus in the morning and the authorities were compelled to postpone all examinations sine die. The students were demanding change in their job designation of ‘supervisors’ and alleviation of all forms of what they described as ‘discrimination.’
Principal of Jhenaidah Polytechnic Institute Manir Hossain could not be contacted on the phone.

-With The Independent input

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