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Boishakh celebrations: DMP special team to counter sexual harassment

  • Published at 01:49 pm April 11th, 2019
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Students at Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Art busy making traditional masks at the faculty premises on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Venues will be under CCTV surveillance

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has announced a special team will counter sexual harassment, as part of its extensive security measures for the upcoming Pohela Boishakh (Bangla New Year) celebrations on April 14.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the DMP media center on Thursday, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said: “A special team will be deployed to counter sexual harassment, along with other extensive security measures to ensure foolproof safety at the Pohela Boishakh celebrations in Dhaka. 

“Strong and coordinated measures have been taken, to ensure a festive celebration of Pohela Boishakh. Police will cordon-off venues—around the Dhaka University campus, Ramna Park, the Teachers-Student Centre (TSC) intersection, Shahbagh, and Suhrawardy Udyan—to ensure the smooth celebration of the first day of Bangla New Year.”

Law enforcement will erect barricades to cut off vehicle traffic in the Nilkhet, Palashi, and Bangla Motor areas during the Boishakh celebrations. The DMP boss said people will have to enter the venues through archways and metal detectors. 

Similar security measures will be implemented in the Hatirjheel and Rabindra Sarobar areas. All venues will be under CCTV surveillance, and separate watch towers will be set up in important areas.

The DMP chief also asked people to refrain from carrying: large purses, bags, trolleys, flammable objects, and sharp objects — such as knives.

Providing more details, the DMP commissioner said: “The Pohela Boishakh celebration venues throughout Dhaka will be monitored by canine squads and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, as well as bomb disposal units.

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“A special team will be deployed to prevent sexual harassment during the festival. No one will be allowed to wear masks and play vuvuzelas [loud horns] during the celebrations to avert any untoward incident.”

Law enforcement will escort the Mongol Shobhajatra, a celebratory procession led by the students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University on the day of Pohela Boishakh. No one will be able to join the rally once it starts its journey on the university campus.

All Pohela Boishakh programs must be concluded by 6pm, the DMP commissioner added.

At least 20 women were sexually assaulted in an hour—right under the noses of the police—by a group of men, on the evening of April 14, 2015, during the Bangla New year celebrations near the TSC on Dhaka University's campus.

Witnesses alleged that a number of policemen were standing nearby at the time but did nothing to stop the assaults. Moreover, reportedly, one officer released two of the culprits who had been caught by the public and handed over to him.

The incident sparked a wave of protests across the country, with people from all quarters condemning the incident and demanding the immediate arrest of the culprits.