In a text message sent to citizens, the Ministry of Home Affairs in Bangladesh dismissed reports of murder and rape circulating amidst student protests in the capital, as fake news.
The protests began on July 29 after two students were killed and seven others injured by a speeding bus in the busy Airport road of Dhaka, the country’s capital. Over the next few days, thousands of students from various schools and colleges took to the streets blaming the government’s pathetic transport system for the frequent road accidents in the city.
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The protests, which were initially peaceful, turned violent as ruling party men and police swooped in on the students. Protesters also blamed Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling party, for initiating the violence. Journalists were attacked for capturing photos and videos of the violent protests. One female journalist also reported being harassed by alleged enforcers serving the ruling party even after she deleted the footage she had.
Police then cracked down on the protesters using rubber bullets and batons injuring more than 100 people. In the blood bath that followed, reports emerged of students getting killed and raped by enforcers supporting the ruling party. Rumors were also allegedly spread that students were abducted and held hostage.
Following this, on August 4, mobile internet was shut down across the nation to curtail the spread of information. Meanwhile, The Daily Star, one of the country’s leading English newspapers, reported that law enforcers were arresting people for allegedly trying to create unrest by spreading rumors on social media.
And today, the Ministry of Home Affairs responded by sending text messages en masse whose content translated as:
There is no authenticity in the allegations that students were murdered and raped at Jhagatal in the capital. The matter is completely rumored. Do not get confused.
There is still no official declaration on how many lives were lost in the aftermath of the protest.