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50 Injured at Bangladesh Protest

July 28, 2002

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DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Police used batons and tear gas Sunday to beat back hundreds of students who refused to leave the country’s largest university campus, after it was shut down indefinitely amid violent protests. At least 50 students were injured, witnesses said.

University Vice Chancellor Anwarullah Chowdhury ordered the closure late Saturday ``to ensure the security of the students and maintain campus peace″ after protests over a police raid and detention of 18 students earlier in the week.

More than 2,000 students rallied on campus, defying an order for 15,000 students living in more than a dozen dormitories to leave by 8 a.m. Sunday. After clashing with police, the protesters reassembled and shouted slogans. Police officers gave up and simply watched the protesters.

``We shall not leave our campus,″ said Sohel Manzur, one of the protesters.

The violence began after police raided a women’s dormitory and detained a group of female students on Thursday. The 18 students had accused several student supporters of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia of extortion and harassment of rivals.

Zia’s supporters have denied the allegations.

Protests swelled in the campus even though police freed the students after hours of detention inside a police lockup.

Thousands of students have since boycotted classes and held daily street protests that have targeted Chowdhury for failing to stop the police raid.

``We won’t leave the campus until the vice chancellor quits,″ read one the placards waved by the protesters.

Political parties in Bangladesh have student chapters in campuses, which are the breeding ground for political workers. Violence is common as rival student groups fight for control of the campuses.

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