Police in Bangladesh's capital fired tear gas and rubber bullets Monday to disperse hundreds of demonstrating students, while a prominent human rights group demanded the release of an activist arrested for criticizing the government during more than a week of protests.

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, activist and founder of Drik, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Chobi Mela International Photography Festival was forcibly taken away from his residence in Dhaka on Sunday by a group of 30-50 individuals claiming to be from the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

It is thought his detention is linked to his posts on FB related to the ongoing student protests and a critical interview he gave an hour prior to his abduction.  He was arrested by plain-clothed police after giving a television interview in which he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has no credibility and was using "brute force" to cling to power. His whereabouts remain unknown and his incommunicado detention raises serious concerns.

Amnesty International called for Alam's immediate release, with Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich saying in a statement that the arrest "marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government."

The traffic chaos of the past week began easing on Monday, as immense demonstrations gave way to sporadic protests, though hundreds of students clashed with police in Dhaka's Bashundhara area where some private universities are located. Police fired rubber bullets and protesters said at least 40 people, mostly students, were injured.

Elsewhere, police used tear gas against protesters at Dhaka's East West University and students marched through the Dhaka University campus chanting anti-government slogans and demanding justice.

The protests, set off by the deaths of two students killed by speeding buses, grew last week to tens of thousands of people, becoming a major embarrassment to Hasina's government, which faces a general election later this year.

On Monday, Bangladesh's Cabinet endorsed a draft law that would increase the maximum punishment for an accident leading to death to five years in jail, up from the current three years.

Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the bill will be submitted to Parliament soon for passage.

The student protesters have demanded tougher punishment for offenses involving road accidents.

On Sunday, pro-government youth groups also attacked protesters and at least five journalists, including an Associated Press photographer.

Hasina's party is blaming the main opposition, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, saying it is manipulating student anger to foment trouble.

Jara actively post korchhe tader ke wanted bole talika prokash korechhe shorkar (The government is putting all those who are actively posting on social media on the 'wanted' list)

With inputs from agencies