Dhaka (Bangladesh) (AFP) – Bangladesh student leaders on Thursday demanded the release of detained demonstrators as they agreed to end days of violent protests against government job quotas.
The action was ended after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday told parliament the system where certain groups are guaranteed a number of jobs would be abolished.
Hasina said “the quota policy doesn’t need to exist” while also criticising the students for “misusing internet for spreading rumours” and for blocking roads and highways.
Speaking at Dhaka University, student leader Rashed Khan told reporters: “We decided to postpone our protest by honouring the prime minister’s speech.”
“We request the government to publish the gazette (of abolishing the policy) as soon as possible and to free the detained students,” he said.
Student leaders have also demanded that security forces who fired rubber bullets and teargas at the protesting students be punished.
Since Sunday, tens of thousands of students had been staging protests and sit-ins and blocking main roads in cities across the country in the biggest social challenge to Hasina in her decade in power.
A number of students were detained, but no number has been given. On Sunday about 100 protesters were injured in clashes with police.
Demonstrators had wanted the share of top government positions set aside for minority groups significantly reduced. They were particularly irate that 30 percent of government positions are reserved for descendents of veterans from Bangladesh’s independence war in 1971.