Private university students lift highway siege

Jul 27th
Dhaka, July 27 (— Private university students have removed the blockade from the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.

They blocked the highway at Kakali, Banani around 3:30pm on Tuesday, demanding the withdrawal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on their tuition fees, and protesting the previous day’s police aggression.

The blockade halted vehicle movement and caused a heavy traffic jam in the area.

Vehicle movement has become normal as the students called off the blockade around 4.30pm.

Gulshan area deputy police commissioner Hafiz Akter told the police tried to settle the conflict through discussions, but had failed. “We had to charge baton and fire a number of tear shells to free the road,” he added.

The deputy commissioner added, however, that after being forced off the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway, at about 5:15pm the students have taken a stance on Kemal Ataturk Avenue. “They have taken position on both sides of the road and are pelting us with brickbats,” he said, and that the police were already trying to bring the situation under control.

Gulshan police chief Kamal Uddin claimed that at least 50 rounds of tear gas shells were fired to move the agitated students off the road. At the time, students threw brick bats at the police, injuring several of the law enforcers, and vandalised a number of vehicles.

The police chief had earlier informed that some students of a few private universities of Mohakhali and Banani had blockaded the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway. He had said at the time that the students were unbending with their demand for withdrawal of VAT on tuition fees by Tuesday.

Witnesses said students of the University of South Asia took out a procession on its Banani campus at noon. Students of East-West University were also demonstrating at Amtoli in Mohakhali.

A lot of police personnel have been deployed at Banani and Mohakhali to bring the situation under control

Tension grew in the area following the student unrest and deployment of police.

Gulshan Zone assistant commissioner of police Nurul Alam had earlier told that the East-West University student protest at Amtali began at about 11am.

Alam also said that the police had been deployed there to bring the situation under control.

Earlier on Monday, a clash took place between police and private university students at Gulshn, Banani and Mohakhali for about 7 hours.

Vehicles had been halted on airport road and the Mohakhali-Gulshan road due to the student blockade.

The students vandalised 20-25 vehicles. Police used sticks and tear gas shells to disperse the students.

The students started the movement to press for the withdrawal of 4 percent VAT on tuition fees.

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