• Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:08 am

Protest rages on for the fourth day

Protesting students used this bus to block the road at Dhaka’s Science Lab on Wednesday Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Amid the raging protests, the government on Wednesday announced that all educational institutions across the country would be closed today.

The capital city came to a standstill for more than six hours on Wednesday as students of schools, colleges and universities occupied major roads and intersections for the fourth consecutive day, demanding road safety and tough action against traffic rule violation. 

Amid the raging protests, the government on Wednesday announced that all educational institutions across the country would be closed today.

“A decision has been made in this regard,” Ministry of Education’s Senior Information Officer Md Afrazur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune over phone on Wednesday.

Protesters were seen stopping vehicles, including motorcycles, even police vehicles, and checking the drivers’ licences. 

However, they let emergency services such as ambulances and fire trucks, as well as vehicles carrying ailing and elderly people pass by.

In the morning, protesters took to the streets in Motijheel, Jatrabari, Farmgate, Uttara, Shahbagh, Mirpur, Kakrail, Elephant Road, Banasree, Rampura, Khilkhet, Vatara and Mohammadpur. There were reports of protesters vandalizing at least 10 vehicles.

Fearing attack from the agitated students, public transport vehicles were scarce on Dhaka’s streets on Wednesday, adding more to the sufferings of the commuters who already struggled throughout the day due to the road blocks. 

Law enforcement agencies were seen being patient with the young protesters; no incident of police-protester encounter was reported till on Wednesday evening.

Students have been out on the streets since Sunday demanding punishment for the bus driver who ploughed into a group of students on the Airport Road in Dhaka, killing two Class XII students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin School and College and injuring several others.

The demonstration has struck a chord with Dhaka residents, garnering grudging support. However, it has also led to immense public suffering due to traffic congestion and the lack of public transport. 

Protests growing, police patient

Students of Notre Dame College, Motijheel Government High School, Ideal School and College, and Motijheel Model High School and College blocked the Motijheel Shapla Chattar area around 12pm, cutting off the city’s main commercial hub.

Around 12:30pm, students of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka Science College, and Siddheshwari Girls’ High School blocked Shantinagar, but left at 1pm, moving towards Kakrail where students of Willes Little Flower School and College had gathered.

Students of Brac University students occupied the street between Gulshan 1 and Mohakhali.

In the morning, students from different non-government schools blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Road near the Housebuilding area in Uttara, later spreading out from the Dhaka airport area to Kawla. Hundreds of Dhaka-bound long-distance buses waited on the road for hours. Protesters took away the keys from motorcycle drivers who did not have licence. 

Protesters also gathered in Shahbagh area, where they were joined by students from Dhaka University and Dhaka Medical College. 

Several hundred protesters gathered in front of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) office and demonstrated for a while.

Students of Dhaka City College, Government Ideal College Dhanmondi, Birshreshtha Munshi Abdur Rouf Public College, Greenlife Medical College, Banasree Ideal School and College, Imperial College and many others demonstrated at different key areas and marched on major thoroughfares demanding justice for the young students who were killed on Sunday. 

Police said though the students blocked the streets, they eventually moved away without causing any trouble. 

They mostly stopped buses and other vehicles to check the drivers’ licences. Police vehicles were not spared either, as the protesters kept chanting “Law is equal for all.”

Additional Deputy Commissioner Kamal Hossain of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said they would not obstruct the protesters if their demonstration remained peaceful. “We are trying to reduce public suffering,” he added.

Protests have spread out in other districts as well, with students in Chittagong, Barisal, Sylhet, Gazipur and Narayanganj staging demonstration on the roads, blocking traffic, reported UNB. 

Warning of tougher movement

The protesters, who withdrew from the streets for the day, promised to come back today to continue their protest. 

“We will bring Dhaka to a grinding halt tomorrow [today] if our nine-point demand is not met by Thursday noon,” a protester said. ‘

They announced that they would gather at Shahbagh again today.

Reports of vandalism

Stray incidents of vandalism were reported on Wednesday

In the morning, protesters vandalized two buses in Karwan Bazar while marching towards Shahbagh.

In Elephant Road, at least six vehicles, including a government microbus, were vandalized. 

Several vehicles were also vandalized in Mirpur, but the exact number could not be confirmed. It is also unclear whether the students are responsible for this.

Teenagers in civil clothes attacked a pick-up truck of tourism police in Mirpur 10 and flipped it over. after rumours spread about police charging batons at students near Dhaka College. Students in uniform were seen trying to stop them. Later, the students flipped the car back upright.

Near Kawla bridge, students vandalized a bus while moving towards Khilkhet.

A 10th grader of Bhasantek Government High School was injured when a car part hit him as the car was being vandalized. He received first aid treatment at the DMCH. 

A majority of public transport vehicles, especially buses, remained off Dhaka streets on Wednesday. However, some BRTC buses were seen plying the city roads, reported UNB.