Students of universities and colleges across Bangladesh have protested “discriminatory” job quotas for the second day as reports say more than 100 were injured in clashes a day earlier.
Protests on Monday were mostly peaceful, with students holding demonstrations and sit-ins on university campuses. Thousands occupied the main square of the capital Dhaka, chanting “Reform, reform!” while classes at Dhaka University ground to a halt.
Heavy police deployment could be seen on the Dhaka University campus where no fresh clashes were reported Monday.
Police and media said state-run universities in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Sylhet and Savar also saw similar peaceful protests by students who had boycotted the classes and staged sit-ins.
However, some 30 people were injured in clashes that erupted at Jahangirnagar University in Savar, where more than 1,000 students demonstrated. Zahidur Rahmab, a spokesman for Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar, said 15 students remained in hospital for treatment.
Senior police officer Azimul Haqu said violent clashes on Sunday left the home of the Dhaka University vice chancellor vandalized while the fine arts institute was ransacked and two cars were torched.
“More than 100 people were injured,” said police inspector Bacchu Mia, adding that wounded students were in stable condition.
The protests are meant to force the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to reduce civil service job quotas dedicated to the families of veterans from the 1971 war of independence and disadvantaged minorities. Students say the current 56 percent quota should be reduced to 10 percent.
The government had earlier resisted the calls for reduced quotas, especially a controversial 30-percent quota set aside for descendants of veterans of the independence war in which Hasina’s father, an architect of Bangladesh’ independence from Pakistan, played a major role. However, authorities said Monday they would review the quota system.
“The government does not have a rigid stance on this (issue),” said senior minister Obaidul Quader, who was ordered by Hasina after the cabinet meeting Monday to review the quotas.
The leader of the student group behind the demonstrations, Hasan Al Mamun, said further protests were postponed after the government said it would consider the students’ demands. He said tens of thousands of students joined the protests nationwide Monday.
Students said they would continue with the protests until Hasina’s government heeded their calls.
“We won’t leave the streets unless our demands are met. This is all about dignity. We are not afraid of bullets,” said an English student of Dhaka University.
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