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DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday shrugged off criticism of her government's rights record as hundreds marched in a second day of protests over the death of a prominent writer in prison.

Demonstrators marched at Dhaka University chanting slogans condemning the government's treatment of Mushtaq Ahmed as well as other writers, journalists and activists.

Another protest was staged at the National Press Club, while dozens of people carried a symbolic coffin around Dhaka University demanding the scrapping of the Digital Security Act (DSA) under which Ahmed was detained last May.

The wide-ranging DSA has been used to crack down on dissent since it was enacted in 2018.

The protests followed clashes between police and security forces in the capital on Friday night. Police said six people were arrested while activists said at least 30 were injured. More protests against the death and arrests were planned Sunday.

Speaking Saturday at a rare press conference to mark a UN recommendation that Bangladesh be reclassified as a 'developing' economy, Prime Minister Hasina -- who has been in office for 12 years -- brushed aside international concerns over the law and Ahmed's death.

"What can we do if someone dies after falling sick," she said. "No death is desired. It is also not desired that unrest will be created."

"Whether the law has been misused or not depends on your point of view. I think the law is taking its own course and will do so. If someone does not commit a crime, he will not be punished in a trial," the prime minister added.

Ahmed collapsed and died at Kashimpur High Security Prison late Thursday.

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