• Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
  • Last Update : 12:45 pm

Demos across Bangladesh demand road safety

Jessore students protest in solidarity with Dhaka students 2-8-18
Students in Jessore hold protests in solidarity with those in Dhaka Tauhid-Uz-Zaman/Dhaka Tribune

The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, with isolated incidents of vandalism

Demonstrations demanding justice for two students recently killed in a road accident in Dhaka are being held throughout Bangladesh.

Protesting students have blocked off the Ashikpur bypass on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway in Tangail Sadar upazila.

According to sources, students led a procession from the Tangail Central Shaheed Minar, around 11am on Thursday, and blocked off the Ashikpur bypass around 11:45am.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, an 11th-grade student named Ashamoni said: “We are holding this demonstration in protest of the accident in Dhaka that left two college students dead. We are highlighting our 9-point demands.”

The demands include the firm implementation of traffic laws across the country and ensuring that all drivers have valid drivers’ licenses, said protesting students.

Students protest in Chapainawabganj on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Anwar Hossain Choudhury/Dhaka Tribune

Meanwhile, Elenga highway police checkpost In-Charge Azizur Rahim Talukder said: “The students are engaged in a peaceful demonstration. They are allowing ambulances and vehicles carrying patients to pass through.”

Protesting students have also blocked off the Dhaka-Aricha Highway, in Savar, as part of the ongoing movement.

Through downpours, the protesters are holding demonstrations near the Radio Colony Bus Stand area. Holding banners and placards, the students were chanting slogans “We want justice.”

Students were seen forcing the traffic police to file cases against drivers and owners of vehicles that lacked legal documents. The protesters were also checking the legal documents of the drivers and cars themselves.

Students protesting in Chandpur on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Md Ibrahim/Dhaka Tribune

A student, on condition of anonymity, said: “Police are filing cases against drivers who do not possess legal documents. We are helping the police in this endeavour.”

Dhaka district Additional Superintendent of Police Saidur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune: “Students are engaged in a sit-in program on the highway as part of their demonstration. We are making an effort to remove them in a peaceful manner.”

Students belonging to different colleges held demonstrations across the city pressing home their 9-point demands in Jessore.

Students of: MM College, City College, Cantonment College, BCMC College, Shaheen College, and many others, led processions to express their solidarity with the movement. They chanted slogans and took up positions in front of the Jessore Press Club.

Additional police have been deployed to the area. However, there were no reports of any untoward incident as of the filing of this report.

Chandpur district has seen thousands of students take to the streets, protesting the deaths of two college students in Dhaka and demanding a ban on illegal usage of vehicles.

Students protesting in Kushtia on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Al-Mamun Sagar/Dhaka Tribune

Braving inclement weather, students were seen organizing demonstrations in key points of the district, such as Chitralekha intersection, and the bus stand area.

According to witnesses, some students vandalized a few buses and trucks on the road, but did not damage smaller vehicles. Students were also seen asking drivers to show their licenses.

The protesters led processions, and some were seen lying down on the roads, as part of the ongoing movement.

Visiting the protesting students, Chandpur Superintendent of Police Shamsun Nahar urged them not to vandalize any more vehicles and ensured that steps will be taken to realize their demands.

Chapainawabganj saw students hold a protest rally and a human chain around 11am on Thursday, demanding safe roads.

Students were seen participating in demonstrations holding banners and festoons, and chanting slogans.

Students stand in protest in Jessore on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Tauhid-Uz-Zaman/Dhaka Tribune

They demanded the resignation of the shipping minister, strict laws to prevent accidental deaths on highways and exemplary punishment of those responsible for the deaths of two college students in Dhaka road accident.

In Mojompur gate area of Kushtia, protest demonstrations and a human chain were held from 10am to 11am.

Students chanted “We want justice” while circling the city thoroughfares. People of every social stratum have expressed their solidarity with the movement.

The programs were held from 10am to 11am on Thursday.

A number of students told the correspondent that the movement will continue indefinitely until their demands are met. They demanded capital punishment for the drivers responsible for killing two college students, and an unconditional apology from the shipping minister.

Students protesting in Barisal on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Anisur Rahman Swapan/Dhaka Tribune

In Barisal, students of various educational institutions of the city assembled on the C&B-Nabagram-Batatala intersection of the city around 11:00am Thursday morning, expressing solidarity with the students in Dhaka.

The students blocked the road along with a part of the Barisal-Dhaka highway, protesting the operation of unfit vehicles and unqualified drivers on the road, and demanding safety on the roads.

At a certain point, some of the students became agitated and vandalized a pickup truck.

Sometime later, a police team led by Assistant Police Commissioner Sahanaj Begum went to the spot to request the students to end the blockade, and the gathering dispersed at 12:35pm amid heavy rain.

Students protesting at JU on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Shoyaib Rahman/Dhaka Tribune

Meanwhile, a protest program and human chain was held peacefully in front of Barisal University on the Barisal-Kuakata highway till noon.

At Jahangirnagar University (JU), students gathered on the Dhaka-Aricha highway near the main entrance of the university between noon and 2pm, blocking the highway to protest for the nine demands for road safety.  

Meanwhile, when the rally ended, Chhatra League member Mahadi Islam Dhrubo allegedly came up to the group on his bike to verbally abuse and threatened them. When the students protested, Dhrubo physically assaulted two of them despite other Chhatra League leaders trying to restrain him.

JU Proctor Shikder Md Zulquarnain said: “If the assaulted students make a formal complaint, I will take appropriate action against the perpetrator.”

Students protesting in Bogra on Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Nazmul Huda Nasim/Dhaka Tribune

Despite schools in Bogra being closed, the town experienced road blockades, vandalism, and protest rallies.

Around 10:30am, students from various educational institutions joined together in a rally that moved into the town.

This congregation later formed into a meeting, with even the parents of some students present. Later, students blockaded important roads and vandalized many vehicles despite a large police presence.

Although police, and local Chhatra League and Jubo League leaders came to ask the crowd to put an end to the proceedings, they kept up their protests till 1pm.

Bangladesh Chhatra Union organized a rally in Moulvibazar protesting the murder of an indigenous child and showing solidarity with the countrywide protests for road safety.

The proceedings began Thursday afternoon, and ended with a meeting that had the discussion topic “This death valley is not my country”

There are reports of similar demonstrations being held by students in many parts of the country, including: Barisal, Habiganj, Rangpur, and Naogaon.