On 7 August, students protesting on the University of Dhaka campus were met with violence by an armed police force. The police injured around 25 student protesters and left several in critical condition after they used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons.
In addition, 21 progressive student leaders were arrested under false pretences, including Anik Roy, Salman Siddiqui, Moshiur Rahman Richard, Joydeep Bhattacharya, and Sadekul Islam Sohail. Charges included “blocking the roads without permission.”
Concerning this attack, the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) President Comrade Mohammad Shah Alam and General Secretary Comrade Ruhin Hussain strongly criticised the police’s needless brutality, calling it as a means of undermining the students’ democratic rights.
The movement had gathered to protest the government’s proposal to raise gasoline costs, which would raise prices for transportation, food, and food production services.
Bangladesh is currently being hit with record-high 7% inflation, leading to people not being able to afford basic nescessities.
After dealing with frequent blackouts, record high inflation, and sharply rising fuel prices, students from various leftist and socialist organisations have gathered to protest the unliveable conditions.
Fuel costs alone have climbed 52%, setting a new high since the country’s independence from Pakistan.
Salman Siddiki, General Secretary of the Socialist Students’ Front, said in a statement: “With worldwide fuel costs dropping, the price hike in Bangladesh is completely unethical. We will continue to march until the administration is forced to listen to our demands.”
While government officials attempted to deflect mounting criticism by blaming the crisis on external factors such as foreign conflicts or the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, figures show that such statements are false, as the international price of fuel has stabilised.
On 9 August, the World Federation of Democratic Youth-affiliated Bangladesh Student Union organised a torch march against the current price crisis and the “conspiratorial false cases against student leaders.”
Such confrontations illustrate the impact of class disparity on environmental and social issues, with the ruling class benefitting from the subjugation of working people, a decision that, in this case, might potentially result in graver crises such to the one that erupted in Sri Lanka earlier this year.
More protests are expected to happen in the coming weeks, from both students and other sectors of the population.
Alexandra Kramskaya, is a member of the YCL’s North East branch