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Petition challenges police action on RU students

Staff Correspondent

Five academics and a rights activist on Tuesday filed a public interest litigation writ petition challenging the legality of police shooting into students rallying against increased fees and the move for the introduction of evening master’s courses in Rajshahi University on February 2.
The petitioners are Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, former Chittagong University professor Swapon Adnan, Dhaka University Bangla teacher Rafique Ulla Khan, Jahangirnagar University anthropology teacher Manosh Kumar Chowdhury, Dhaka University mass communications and journalism teacher Fahmidul Haq and Dhaka University international relations teacher Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan.
The petitioners sought a directive on the home secretary and the police to explain the reason for shooting into peaceful protest of general students.
They also prayed for a directive on the home secretary, the inspector general of police, the Rajshahi Metropolitan Police commissioner and the Motihar police station officer-in-charge to explain whether the police action had followed the provisions as laid out in the Police Regulations of Bengal 1943 for shooting.
Referring to various reports newspapers printed and private television channels aired, the petitioners said that the police and some armed students had indiscriminately fired into general students who were holding protests.
The police and the Chhatra League filed two cases each against 475 general students, with 105 being named, in the incident that left more than 100 students wounded, 20 of them reportedly with bullets.
The Police Regulations of Bengal stipulates that the police require a formal order from an officer-in-charge or a magistrate before firing to disperse mob and to issue repeated warnings before doing so.
The police, according to the regulations, will report to higher authorities the reasons for firing, the number of bullets used and the casualties.
It also stipulates that an investigation should be conducted by a magistrate to establish whether the firing was necessary.
The petitioners claimed that there was no reason to believe that the police had either given warnings to the protesters or followed the legal procedure before and after shooting at them.
The petitioners’ lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua told reporters that the writ petition would be moved in a High Court bench soon.
The National Human Rights Commission chairman, Mizanur Rahman, meanwhile on Tuesday, said that the law enforcers had done excesses during the attack on a non-violent movement of Rajshahi University students.
‘They crossed the limits... It was a shameful act that had been done to the students,’ Mizanur Rahman said when a group of former RU students submitted an independent report on the attack to him at the commission office.
The NHRC chief urged the authorities concerned not harass the injured who were named accused in the cases.
A group of former RU students set up an eight-member team to investigate the attack.
The committee in the report urged the authorities to set up a ‘truth commission’ to investigate the brutally of the law enforcers.
They also demanded that the authorities should arrest the Chhatra League leaders who fired into the protesters.
The report also demanded an investigation against the university’s vice-chancellor Mizan Uddin and pro-vice-chancellor Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan Sajal, among others, for their role in the attack.

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