from the Daily Star:
DHAKA, Bangladesh – A few hundred students of private universities yesterday barricaded the Airport Road at Mohakhali in Dhaka for about four hours demanding withdrawal of VAT [a government tax] levied on their tuition and other fees.
They vandalised at least 10 vehicles and clashed sporadically with police at Mohakhali intersection during their demonstration. Police charged truncheons and lobbed teargas canisters to disperse them, which left at least 15 students, policemen and pedestrians with minor injuries.
The demonstration disrupted traffic movement for hours on the thoroughfare triggering long tailbacks.
Students of North South University, East West University, American International University of Bangladesh (AIUB), Brac University, Dhaka International University and other private universities took to the streets around 1:00pm demanding withdrawal of 4.5 percent VAT slapped on their tuition and other fees.
They said they formed a human chain around noon on both sides of the Airport Road between Mohakhali and Kakoli as per their earlier announced programme.
Witnesses said the students first blocked the streets between Mohakhali and Gulshan Link Road and then the Mohakhali intersection and continued their obstruction despite repeated requests from the police not to disrupt traffic.
Police charged truncheons on them around 4:45pm, they said, adding that this made some students angry and they vandalised a few vehicles at the intersection and pelted police with brickbats. Vehicular movement on the Airport Road resumed after this.
During the chases and counter chases with police that followed, students gathered near the Wireless Gate next to Brac University around 5:00pm and damaged a few more vehicles and barricaded the Mohakhali-Gulshan-1 street until 7:00pm.
Officer-in-Charge of Gulshan Police station Kamal Hossain claimed none was arrested in connection with the violence and the students left the streets around 7:00pm.
The students termed the VAT on their fees “illogical and discriminatory”. They said it would be a huge burden on them and their parents.
Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, a student of AIUB, said they blocked the road after forming the human chain in the hope that they would get assurance from the government about their demand.
“Education is not a commodity and the government cannot impose any VAT on it,” he said, adding, “How could the government impose VAT on private universities when it is giving subsidy to public universities?” (continue here)