The Bangladeshi government has reportedly suspended 3G and 4G mobile internet services since last Saturday after more than a week of violent clashes between police and student protesters over road safety.
Hundreds of students have walked out of class in Dhaka, the capital, to protest the transportation sector following the deaths of two students killed by a bus in late July.
The protests have virtually shut down traffic in the city of 18 million people. Police have reportedly sent more than 100 people to the hospital with tear gas and rubber bullet injuries. Local press report the wireless service shutdown is part of an effort to bar protesters from mobilising.
#VIDEO Journalists, incl. @AP photographer @ahadfoto, covering #Dhaka #WeWantJustice student protests severely injured by armed attackers in police presence. @dailystarnews says attackers from ruling Awami League's student front #Bangladesh Chhatra League: https://t.co/C2nbd3qWf5 pic.twitter.com/dZ5VOQqS3L
— Mahfuz Sadique / মাহফুজ সাদিক (@MahfuzSadique) August 5, 2018
The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission confirmed the order to shut down mobile internet services came from the government. Wi-Fi and wired networks continue to work without restrictions.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned “third party” actors, with more extremist anti-government views, could sabotage the protests and worsen the clashes with police. The Washington Post cites local “reports” indicating “both the ruling party and opposition have mobilized supporters to infiltrate the protests”.
“That’s why I request all guardians and parents to keep their children at home. Whatever they have done is enough,” Hasina’s office said.
Schools in Dhaka shut down last week, with one official saying changes are on the way. Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal issued a statement saying “all the demands raised by the agitating students are logical, and the process to implement those demands is underway.”