Dhaka: Thousands of students across Bangladesh staged protests and sit-ins Monday after clashes at the country’s top university left at least 100 people injured.
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Dhaka University students fighting what they consider “discriminatory” government job quotas in favor of special groups.
It was one of the biggest protests faced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her decade in power. A minister was due to meet protest leaders in Dhaka on Monday.
But students at state-run universities in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Sylhet and Savar boycotted classes and staged sit-ins, police and media said.
“More than 1,000 students joined the demonstrations at Jahangirnagar University,” said Ataur Rahman, a protester in Savar where the university is located. The clashes, which began Sunday night and went into the early hours of Monday, turned Dhaka University into a battleground.
Copycat protests soon started in other major cities as thousands of students boycotted classes and staged sit-ins. Organizers in Dhaka said they were holding peaceful protests when police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets. They used batons and water cannon to clear a central square.
As violence spread across the campus, thousands of male and female students launched into pitched battles with police. “More than 100 people were injured,” police inspector Bacchu Mia told AFP, adding they were treated in hospital but their condition was not serious.
Protesters threw rocks, vandalized the home of the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, torched two cars and ransacked the fine arts institute, said senior police officer Azimul Haque. Fifteen people were detained, police said.