The blockade has created long tailbacks on all sides of the intersection, one of the busiest in the capital
Leaders and activists of Muktijoddha Sangsad Sontan Command on Wednesday evening blockaded the Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka, protesting the government’s decision to scrap the existing quota system in the recruitment process of first and second class government jobs.
They had first gathered in the Dhaka University’s TSC area around 9:15pm. From there, they marched to Shahbagh and blockaded the intersection by creating a human chain.
As vehicular movement was stopped, the protesters lit a fire in the middle of the intersection. They only allowed ambulances to pass through since 9:30pm.
The blockade has created long tailbacks on all sides of the intersection, one of the busiest in the capital.
Muktijoddha Sangsad Sontan Command is an organization of the descendants of 1971 freedom fighters.
Addressing the protest program, the organization’s Executive President Sheikh Atiqul Babu said: "The dignity of the freedom fighters has been lowered and defamed by the decision of the Cabinet. Our constitutional rights have been violated as well."
"We condemn the decision. We demand reinstatement of the 30% quota privilege for the family members of freedom fighter. Otherwise, we will go for a tougher movement,” he declared.
He also announced that they would organize a protest program in Shahbagh at 3pm on Saturday, and it would be attended by children and grandchildren of the freedom fighters from across the country.
Earlier in the day, the Cabinet at its weekly meeting approved a proposal to abolish the existing quota system in the first and second class government jobs.
Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam also told reporters: "Now, recruitment for the first and second class jobs (from Grade 9 to Grade 13) will be made directly on a merit basis and the quota system will exist only in the Grade 3 and Grade 4 jobs.”
Meanwhile, after arriving at Shahbagh, Bangladesh Chhatra League’s General Secretary Golam Rabbani had urged the protesters to leave the streets in order to end the sufferings of the commuters.
He said that the protesters’ demand would be met if they could help Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina understand the necessity of it.
However, Sheikh Atiqul Babu said their movement would continue till their demand is met.
Shahbagh police station Officer-in-Charge Abul Hasan told the Dhaka Tribune that the protesters had told police they would end the demonstrations as soon as possible.
But, he declined to comment when asked whether police would take any measures to disperse the protesters, to allow vehicular movement to resume.
Meanwhile, members of another organization of freedom fighters and their family members, Muktijoddha Poribar, were also seen demonstrating in front of the National Museum at Shahbagh at the same time.
The Cabinet’s decision on Wednesday came following a months-long nationwide movement of the students and jobseekers, which started in February.