Re: Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET) was Wednesday closed sine die as violent clashes between the students of the varsity and the adjacent Agrani School and College, backed by locals, rocked the campus.
Resident students were also asked to vacate the dormitories by 9am Thursday, as tensions mounted on the campus after the rioting that left at least 20 wounded–some of them critically.
Sources said the injured are mostly RUET students as they came under a fierce attack launched by some students of the college, situated on the campus of the engineering university.
Among the injured are Rasel, Imran, Riad and Kabir—all four third-year students of Computer Science Department–and Mohsin, also a third-year student of Civil Engineering. Rasel suffered serious injuries as he was struck on the head with a machete, campus sources said. He was admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
The injured also include two photojournalists–Iqbal Hossain of Daily Jugantor and Abdus Samad of local daily Sunshine. They were beaten up and their cameras snatched away, according to the sources.
In an instant protest against the “attack” on them, journalists blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway, disrupting traffic on the busy route for quite some time.
The clash erupted following a quarrel over cutting earth from the RUET campus at round 1:30pm.
Witnesses said Agrani School and College students went to dig out soil from the campus at noon. At the time, Rasel prevented them from cutting earth from the campus.
“At one stage of altercation, the school students beat up Rasel. As the information went flying over the campus, his friends came to his rescue when the clash ensued,” says an eyewitness account of the rioting, which panicked all living in dorms and residences in the campus area.
Later, local people also joined forces with the Agrani students and locked horns with the RUET students.
Vice-chancellor Dr. Sirajul Karim Chowdhury told banglanews during the unrest that Rajshahi Police Commissioner was informed about the troubles and “they were trying to pacify the students”.
The closure of the university disrupted the ongoing examinations of the engineering students. After previous deferment of the examinations for campus unrest, the exams started only on February 22.
According to campus sources, though the students were ordered to leave the halls, they were apprehensive of any revenge attack by outsiders as a section of local people sided with the Agrani students.