Students’ demo against Vat paralyses Dhaka’s traffic system

Students’ demo against Vat paralyses Dhaka’s traffic system

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Students of various private universities staged demonstrations at different parts of the city on Thursday protesting the imposition of VAT on the tuition fees and police action on East-West University students, bringing the entire city traffic to a standstill.
The agitation progremme, joined by students from different private universities, caused unprecedented traffic congestions in different city areas, including Dhanmondi, Mohakhai, Basundhara, Rampura, Gulshan-1 and Mohakhali, as the angry students blocked many city roads since the morning.
The traffic situation slightly improved in the evening as students withdrew their blockade in Mohakhali and Rampura areas following a clarification by National Board of Revenue (NBR) that it is the private university authorities, not the students, who will pay the VAT.But the agitation continued in Dhanmondi and Bashudhara areas till filing of the report at 8 pm.
Echoing the NBR clarification, Finance Minister AMA Muhith at a press briefing in his hometown Sylhet also said, “The VAT won’t be withdrawn in any way. But the students will not pay the VAT, it’s the private university authorities who will pay the VAT. The private university authorities won’t be allowed to raise tuition fees of the students either.”
As the students withdrew their blockade from Mohakhali area, the Registrar of Brac University told journalists that the university authorities will refund the amount of VAT if any student paid it in the previous month.
Long tailbacks triggered by the students’ agitation caused immense sufferings to the city dwellers as many people were seen walking on the roads, leaving behind their vehicles to reach their destinations.
School students and their guardians had to suffer a lot to get back home after the school hours. Ambulances carrying patients could not move for hours together due to traffic gridlock in Mirpur road area where a good number of hospitals and clinics are situated.
Traders pulled down the shutters of their shops at Rapa Plaza crossing in Dhanmondi area fearing vandalism.
Earlier, the students laid siege to different city roads chanting slogans to withdraw the VAT and demanding punishment to those who attacked the protesters seeking the VAT withdrawal.
In Dhanmondi area, students of Stamford University and Daffodil University staged demonstrations since morning at Dhanmondi Road-27 and Rapa Plaza crossing.
Vehicular movement came to a standstill on entire Mirpur Road as the students blocked the roads.
Demanding immediate withdrawal of VAT, Ratul Bin Rahman, a student of Daffodil University, said, “We have been demonstrating peacefully as it would be difficult for many of us to continue our study if the VAT is imposed.”
Asadur Rahim, a businessman, said, “Nothing should be done in the name of movement for which people have to endure sufferings.”
In Uttara area, students of several private universities, including Uttara University and Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology, took to the streets in front of North Tower around 11am, disrupting traffic on both sides of the Airport-Tongi road.
They chanted slogans demanding withdrawal of VAT and punishment to those responsible for Wednesday’s attack on East-West University students.
In Rampura Bridge area, several hundred students of East-West University brought out a possession in front of the main gate of the university in Aftabnagar area around 11:30am.
In Bashundhara area, vehicular movement on the Kuril Biswa Road was disrupted as students of North South University (NSU) blocked the road demanding to press for the same demand.
In Shaymoli area, ASA University students staged demonstrations in front of their university blocking the road that halted traffic movement in the area.
In Mohakhali area, students of BRAC University staged demonstrations on the Gulshan 1-Mohakhali road around 10:15 am.
Besides, private university students in Chittagong and Sylhet also demonstrated demanding withdrawal of the VAT and protesting attack on EWU students in the capital.
UNB Chittagong correspondent reports: 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. Later, they brought out a procession at noon.
On Wednesday, a clash took place between police and the EWU students when the latter were demonstrating in front of their university near Rampura Bridge around 2pm protesting the imposition of 7.5 percent VAT on the tuition fees. The clash left at least 10-15 people injured.
Earlier on July 4, the NBR issued a notification imposing 7.5 percent VAT (Valued added tax) on the tuition fees of the private universities and medical colleges.
According to statistics provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), there are currently 84 private universities in the country with 328,736 students.- UNB

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