Law enforcement baton charged to disperse the crowd
As protests over air tickets to Saudi Arabia continued for nearly two weeks, police yesterday came down heavily on Bangladeshi expatriate workers and charged batons after the crowd broke open one of the entrances of the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.
Several ticket-seekers sustained injuries during the police action. Protesting the charge, the ticket seekers blocked Karwan Bazar road for nearly two hours, causing immense suffering to commuters and pedestrians.
Hundreds of migrants also gathered at the office of the Biman Bangladesh Airlines in Motijheel to collect their tickets and get their tokens for the tickets.
The expatriate workers were outraged over the hassle to get tokens and return tickets in line with their respective expiry dates of visas.
However, after the protests erupted at 10am and continued for the next two hours, the authorities of Saudi Airlines on the Sonargaon Hotel premises provided each of them a form, and asked them to provide their visa-related information and all the main gates of the hotel were opened.
According to the airlines, the workers whose visas will expire soon were supposed to get their tickets, but not everyone received the form.
Hundreds of the migrants, who got stranded in Bangladesh after returning home on vacation from the kingdom due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gathered in front of the airline office on Sunday morning. At one stage in the chaos, they entered the hotel premises where the Saudi Airlines office is located.
They thronged outside the Saudi Airlines office for tickets and waited there for quite some time. At one stage, when they tried to enter the hotel premises, they were obstructed by security personnel.
They finally broke an entrance and flocked inside the hotel premises, causing police to baton charge them.
Following the police action, the agitating expatriates took over the Karwan Bazar road, halting traffic for almost two hours.
One Solaiman Chowdhury, an expatriate, said he turned up there around 9am as the Saudi Airlines promised tickets from 10am.
“But we were not allowed in (the hotel premises where the airlines office is located). I’ll have to return to Saudi Arabia by October 11. But what if I don’t get my ticket?” he said.
Another expatriate, Boni Adam, said he came all the way from Mymensingh around 3am. “I could not sleep at night and suffered a lot. But all my efforts went in vain,” he said, after failing to get his ticket.
“I’m not even sure when I will get that,” added a frustrated Boni.
Hatirjheel police OC, Abdur Rashid, said law enforcement brought the situation under control by removing the migrants from the premises.