| Riot police kick a protester before arresting him on the Dhaka University campus. (AFP)
Dhaka, Aug. 22 (Agencies): One person was killed and many injured today as clashes between angry students and police spread to campuses across Bangladesh, prompting the military-backed government to declare an indefinite curfew in the capital and five other major cities.
“Students in all universities in these cities have been asked to vacate their dormitories, by 1400 GMT tonight, before the curfew begins,” Fahim Munaim said.
“All universities and the colleges of the six cities have also been ordered closed for an indefinite period,” said Munaim, spokesman for the caretaker government chief Fakhruddin Ahmed.
Political analysts said the protests which started at the Dhaka University on Monday and have since spread to other institutions in the capital and across the country, might pose a serious challenge to the government.
The clashes followed a troop assault on students after they had protested against the presence of soldiers at a football match held at the Dhaka University’s gymnasium compound.
Troops had been based in the complex since January when an interim administration took power after months of political violence in the country. Before ordering the curfew, a government statement said the authorities would take “stern action against anyone engaged in rowdy and anarchic acts”.
The government withdrew the army camp from the university campus last night and promised to punish the offenders, in a bid to cool the protesters.
“Despite these measures a section of people are engaged in causing damage to public and private properties in Dhaka and other places. This cannot be allowed to continue,” the statement said.
Police and witnesses said a rickshaw puller was killed after he was caught in clashes between police and students at a university in the northwestern city of Rajshahi. At least 100 students were injured.
Another 100 people were injured in Dhaka when riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. “The city is in turmoil, there is smoke billowing from burning tyres,” a police officer said.
Students also clashed with police in the southern towns of Barisal and Khulna and in the northeastern Sylhet town. Students from Jahangirnagar University at Savar, 40 km north of Dhaka, barricaded a highway and clashed with police trying to disperse them today, witnesses said.
“The situation is deteriorating as teachers now have came out to join protesting students,” said another police officer in Dhaka.
The violence has shut shops, forced public transport off the streets and caused panic among residents in affected areas, witnesses said.