Students outraged, claim police favoured traders during New Market clash
Students of several educational institutions, including Dhaka College, have expressed anger over the role of police in bringing the situation under control following the clash between shop employees and students in New Market area today.
They alleged that police failed to bring the situation under control although the clash broke out around 11:30 pm last night (April 18, 2022). Clashes resumed again around 11 am today and continued till 3 pm.
Students claimed that when the clash broke out, police fired tear shells and rubber bullets directed at them, on behalf of the traders.
They alleged that several students were seriously injured during the police action. They were angry over the role of police from the very beginning.
Witnesses said the clash between New Market area traders and the students that started last night continued till the wee hours. However, situation in the New Market area was calm from 6 am till 11 am. Students again took position in front of Dhaka College while traders and shop employees did the same in front of New Market.
Both shop owners and students alleged that police were not to be found anywhere at the scene when a fresh round of clashes broke out between the two sides, which continued till 1 pm.
Several crude bombs went off at the time, said the witnesses.
Around 1 pm, a police team, led by DMP Deputy Commissioner (Ramna Zone) Sajjadur Rahman went to the spot to bring the situation under control, along with water cannons.
Before police could bring the law and order situation under control around 1 pm, a few shops in Nurjahan Market were set on fire, said the shop owners. They claimed that the agitating students set their shops on fire and four shops were gutted.
Later, fire service personnel rushed to the spot and brought the blaze under control.
Students said traders, from in front of Chandrima Super Market, started throwing bricks at them in the presence of policemen.
Later, students threw crude bombs and brickbats targeting the police and the shop employees, said witnesses.
Around 3 pm, when police chased the shop employees away from the Chandrima Super Market area, the clash ended.
There would have been no clashes had the police taken a strong stance from the beginning, students and eyewitnesses said.
Ismail Hossain Samrat, a student of Dhaka College, told The Daily Star that police acted on behalf of the businessmen since last night when the clash broke out.
"Over hundred students were injured. Five of them were seriously injured. One was said to be in critical condition," he said.
Talking to this correspondent, traders and shop employees also expressed anger about the role of police and demanded compensation for damages to their shops, which were set on fire.
Mizanur Rahman, owner of a shop at Nurjahan Market, told The Daily Star, "Police could not control the students. Students of Dhaka College set our shops on fire."
He claimed that students of Dhaka College extorted money on different occasions and harassed them using political influence.
Dismissing the students' allegations, Azizul Haque, assistant commissioner (Dhanmondi zone) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star, "We have been active since the beginning. Our role was neutral as complaints were made from both sides. We just performed our duties."
DMP Deputy Commissioner (Ramna Zone) Sajjadur Rahman, while talking to journalists, said that police have been working to control the situation in the area.
Denying the students' allegations, he said, "Ask questions, but don't challenge. We have worked to bring the situation under control."