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Reckless car races a nuisance for Gulshan residents

  • Published at 11:39 pm January 4th, 2020
Drug addicted drivers often drive recklessly that triggers fatal road accidents <strong>Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
Representational Image Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Car races in the area came into focus in 2015, when Fareez Rahman, nephew of former Awami League lawmaker HBM Iqbal, drove a car recklessly and ploughed into rickshaws, injuring four people, including two rickshaw pullers

On October 18, Liyana Tripura Popy was killed when a minor – driving recklessly – hit a rickshaw in Gulshan.

Popy, 23, a student and beauty parlor employee, sustained severe injuries and died later.

The closed-circuit television camera shows that two SUVs – one white, and the other black – were trying to overtake one another during a “car race” between them.

However, the arrestee, a ninth-grader of Canadian International School, was later sent to Tongi’s Juvenile Development Centre. The other driver, also a teenager, went into hiding, according to Gulshan Society officials.

This is not the sole accident resulting from racing in Gulshan.

Car races in the area came into focus in 2015, when Fareez Rahman, nephew of former Awami League lawmaker HBM Iqbal, drove a car recklessly and ploughed into rickshaws, injuring four people, including two rickshaw pullers.

Even after four years, such races have not stopped.

Mithun Saha, a security guard at Gulshan 2, said: “The cars have no silencers making them extremely loud. Sometimes I get scared at night when the buildings vibrate.”

“When speeding cars brake all suddenly, the wheels make a screeching sound. Sometimes the cars make sharp corners in full speed,” he added.

Dhaka Tribune visited the area and talked to at least 20 people including residents, security guards, and police.

According to them, races usually start at night – mostly during weekends – after 10pm when there is less traffic on the roads. They take place not only on Gulshan Avenue but also in the narrow lanes.

However, how car races take place in such a “secured” area that houses a number of embassies is still a mystery.

There are always police, army, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Ansar VDP patrolling the lanes of the diplomatic zones.

A policeman, on high commission duty, said, he saw a speeding SUV making rounds on the same road at least ten times on the night of December 8.

He also claimed to have witnessed an accident due to speeding on Road 84 at Gulshan 2.

The races become reckless and frequent during weekends and most of the racers are adolescents, according to Gulshan Society officials. This voluntary organization works for the wellbeing of the residents of Gulshan and also finances the monitoring of the area.

Barrister Shukla Sarwat Siraj, secretary general of the executive committee of Gulshan Society, alleged that stopping car races would turn into a “political issue” as most of the reported racers belong to “high class” political families and most of them go unpunished.

“To end racing, besides spreading awareness, parents have to take responsibility as well,” she said.

However, she believes that to prevent such kind of incidents, the society had urged the police to set up speed breakers at regular intervals.

She expressed anger as nothing was mentioned in the new Road Transport Act 2018 over the punishment of minor drivers, as most “racers” are juveniles.

No traffic police at night

Car races are not exclusive to Gulshan alone. They take place in Dhaka’s 300 feet, 100 feet, Hatirjheel, and sometimes in the Dhaka University area. However, the frequency is much higher in Gulshan.

DMP Traffic Division Deputy Commissioner (North) Probir Kumar, said: “Traffic police do not monitor the roads late at night in Gulshan area. Only a patrol team is deployed at Kakoli, the main entrance to Gulshan 2, though only sometimes the team visits the Gulshan area.”

“At that [high] speed it is tough for us to stop them,” he said, adding: “[But] sometimes we catch them and hand them over to the police,” he added.

However, Gulshan police OC SM Kamruzzaman claimed otherwise, saying that car races are not so frequent in the area.

Even though there is no exact record of how much car racing went on in the last few years, OC Kamruzzaman said, over the last five months since he joined the station, there have been reported cases of eight to 10 car races.

But according to the residents, security guards, and Gulshan Society officials, the illegal races frequently escape the eyes of the law enforcement.

However, the OC told Dhaka Tribune that most of these “racers” were spared after warnings since they are usually underage.

“Cases were filed only in some incidents where accidents occur,” he said.

Cases not taken due to ‘political pressure’

There are allegations of non-filing of cases due to political pressure or money being offered to free the minor drivers.

In the case of Popy, her family filed a case with Gulshan police station on the day of her death.

But later, the teenager’s family allegedly wanted to settle the case with Tk50,000, and told the deceased’s family to withdraw the case. Popy’s family, however, did not withdraw the case.

Dhaka Tribune could not independently verify the matter.

Regarding the accident on October 12, 2015, involving Fareez Rahman, nephew of former Awami League lawmaker HBM Iqbal, police reportedly did not want to take the case.

In the case at Road 74 in Gulshan 2 where four people were injured while police, at the time, said they had found alcohol in the car.

The High Court, on October 20 of the same year, asked police authorities to explain within two weeks why they should not be ordered to take legal action against Fareez, and why departmental proceedings should not be taken against the OC of Gulshan police station for not carrying out his duty.

Following the High Court intervention, the case was lodged 17 days later, on October 29 but under sections that led to a lenient sentencing.