Police, protesters clash in Bangladesh capital; many injured

Isaac Cain
August 8, 2018

Hundreds of students were injured on Saturday when police reportedly fired rubber bullets into crowds, and tensions escalated again on Sunday.

Bangladesh's cabinet on Monday approved raising the maximum jail time for rash driving deaths to five years from three, the law minister said, as students protested for a ninth day over the deaths of two teenagers killed by a speeding bus in Dhaka.

The protests sparked last week after two teenage students -a boy and a girl - were killed when two buses racing to pick passengers, a common occurrence in the city, hit them and wounded several others.

Students have stopped thousands of vehicles - including those of top officials and judges - demanding to see if the cars were registered and the drivers licensed.

The student protesters have demanded tougher punishment for offences involving road accidents.

The eight journalists also include - Prothom Alo's staff correspondent Ahmed Deepto, Associated Press (AP) photo-journalist AM Ahad, Daily Banik Barta's Palash and freelancer Rahat Karim.

A group of pro-government students attacked the student protestors with sticks, rods, stones, and pistols, said the report.

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The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission said it would comment later Sunday.

Activists have also taken to social media in droves to call on local and worldwide media organisations to cover the story. "Help us save him and all the other innocent lives", Student protesters said, referring to the news that photographer Shahidul Alam was picked up and detained after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the protests and repression.

They also blocked roads, only letting emergency vehicles through, and the Government has threatened to get tougher if the protests become too disruptive. At present, the Bangladeshi leadership is already in crisis, in such a way the student movement is going to increase trouble.

All the telecommunications companies were directed to stop 3G and 4G services for a total period of 24 hours on late Saturday, the English-language Dhaka Tribune reported. More than 100 people were injured as police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators marching toward an office of the ruling Awami League party.

The unprecedented numbers on the streets have forced the Awami League government - unable to control the protests in a week - to come to the dialogue table.

The embassy tweeted that while it did not condone property damage by some of the protesters: "Nothing can justify the brutal attacks and violence over the weekend against the thousands of young people who have been peacefully exercising their democratic rights in supporting a safer Bangladesh".

"Regardless of political or religious values, we wanted to show solidarity with those students in Bangladesh", Mr Rahman said. Dhaka police commissioner Abdullah Hale said, "The situation is very bad in the area".

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