Police in Bangladesh said Monday they have arrested Shahidul Alam, a celebrated photographer, for his posts on Facebook and statements in other media outlets about the student protests in Dhaka, the capital, demanding better enforcement of traffic safety laws and more protection for pedestrians near schools.
Moshiur Rahman, a police official, told the French news agency (AFP) that Alam was brought to a police station early Monday and was being interrogated for "giving false information to different media and for provocative comments." Rahman said legal action would be taken against the photographer.
At least 30 plainclothes police officers picked up Alam from his home late Sunday.
The student demonstrators continued to clash with police Sunday, the eighth day of the protests, in their quest for better traffic laws and protections for pedestrians.
Late Saturday, a car carrying the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Bernicat, was attacked by a group of armed men, but no one was hurt in the incident.
Police have used tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters, as demonstrators threw stones.
Witnesses said police fired rubber bullets at the students, but police have denied using the rubber pellets.
Abdus Shabbir, an emergency room doctor, told the French news agency (AFP) his hospital had treated more 115 students Saturday and some of them had injuries consistent with rubber bullets. A few of the students "were in very bad condition," he said.
Protesters have also vandalized vehicles. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that more than 300 vehicles have been damaged this week, including some that have been set on fire.
The protests started Monday in Dhaka after two college students were killed by unregulated commuter buses racing to pick up passengers. Students took to the streets, particularly in areas where accidents are common, to stage protests, check driver licenses, and direct traffic themselves, in some cases setting up traffic lanes to separate heavy vehicles from light ones.
Members of the ruling political party reportedly tried to control the protesters, drawing criticism from the demonstrators.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised to grant the students their list of nine demands in phases. Demands include bringing to justice those responsible for Monday's traffic deaths; releasing students arrested in the protests; and the building of footbridges near all educational institutions. The students say they will protest until the demands are met.
The students also demand an apology and the resignation of Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, who seemed to downplay the deaths of the two students when he questioned why there had been no uproar about an accident in India a day earlier that killed 33 people. He has since apologized for his comments.
Bangladesh's National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads, and Railways found that more than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents last year, most often because of reckless driving.