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11 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 September, 2015 01:28:08 AM
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Thousands suffer

Dhaka comes to a standstill as students protest against VAT on tuition fees
Thousands suffer
(From left) Students of private universities burn an effigy of Finance Minister AMA Muhith and block Pragati Sarani at Rampura in the capital yesterday; vehicles stand still on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue; commuters walk on a street in Rampura as traffic gridlock on an unprecedented scale grips the capital following blockade at various points by private university students. Independent Photo

Agitation by private university students in the capital and outside Dhaka yesterday (Thursday) brought traffic to a standstill. Thousands of people, particularly patients and the old, suffered immensely When the wheels of different modes of transport did not turn for hours due to obstruction of roads by the agitators, commuters had to sweat it out inside packed vehicles, or had to walk in the blazing sun. While the students were busy chanting slogans, raising banners, festoons or writing on streets, patients were groaning in hospital-bound ambulances stuck in the streets. The students were protesting against the police attack on East West University students on Wednesday and demanding cancellation of the 7.5 per cent value added tax (VAT) on education. The aggrieved students, under the banner of "No Vat on Education", gathered in front of East West University, at Dhanmondi-27, the Uttara Housing Building intersection, in front of the Bashundhara Residential Gate and Banani since morning. The presence of law enforcers was visible during the movement.
Students also demonstrated elsewhere in the country, including Narayanganj, Shariatapur, the BEC intersection in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and the Surma Point in Sylhet.
Students of BRAC University gathered at Mahakhali, Students of North South University and Independent University at Bashundhara Gate, Students of Daffodil and Liberal Arts at Dhanmondi since morning and obstructed roads, stopping vehicular movement and forcing people to walk in the scorching heat. Some 83 private universities, 64 private medical colleges and 17 private engineering colleges have come under VAT imposed by the government in the budget.
The agitation disrupted traffic from House Building to Khilkhet, Aftabnagar in Rampura, Merul, Badda, Progoti Sarani areas, resulting in severe gridlock from Malibag to Rampura bridge, Satrasta to Mogbazar railgate, Hatirjheel to Mohakhali, Dhanmondi to Mirpur and Gulshan Link Road.
Students demanded withdrawal of VAT, otherwise they would continue the movement till their demand was met.
Oni, who was leading the agitation at Bashundhara, said: “We've launched the movement as we're left with no other option. We are sorry for the sufferings of the people, but the State has pushed us to this situation.”
Anik, who was leading the movement at Banani, said: “We don’t want VAT on education. We have come to know that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has said that VAT will be applicable to universities and not students. But we want an official declaration. We will not leave the streets till our demand is met,” he said.
In Chittagong, students of different private universities, including International Islamic University, East Delta University and Premier University, gathered at GEC intersection around 12 pm and staged protests. Later, they brought out a procession and staged sit-in in front of Chittagong Press Club.
In Sylhet, students of Leading University, Metropolitan University,

Sylhet International University and Sylhet North University staged demonstrations at Court Point in the city demanding immediate  withdrawal of VAT.
Meanwhile, a section of the protesters has decided to withdraw their protest programme following the finance minister’s announcement that the students would have not to pay VAT.
But another section of the ‘No VAT on Education’ movement decided to carry on their demonstration and protest programme.
At around 8.30 pm, some students made an attack on the demonstrators at the Dhanmondi 27 intersection forcing them to leave the place.
At Mahakhali, students of the BRAC university and at Rampur students of the East West University postponed their demonstration  in the evening.
North South University students left the street at Norda at around 6:30pm.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Chhatra Federation has called a strike at all private universities for Sunday protesting imposition of VATon higher education.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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