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A time for calm

  • Published at 07:46 pm August 4th, 2018
Students clash with unidentified men, who many claimed were activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, in Jigatola, Dhaka on August 4, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Getting off the streets and letting life go back to normal in no way means we are letting the government off the hook

There can be no justification for attacks on protesters, and the violence that was meted out on them at the hands of ruling party student cadres is totally unacceptable.  It cannot be defended and must be brought to an end.

By the same token, the rumour mongering that is clearly intended to stoke passions and incite greater turmoil must also be nipped in the bud.

Indeed it was this kind of deliberate misinformation which instigated a rush on the AL office this afternoon that escalated the situation.

It is clear that one of the dangers of the current situation is that it can be misused and exploited to foment even greater unrest and instability.

For all of our sakes, for the sake of the protestors and also for the sake of the nation’s stability, we must all step back.

When it comes to road safety in Bangladesh, a serious conversation needed to start, and thanks to the student protesters who have taken to the streets in these past few days to make their voices heard, it has.

The message has been loud and clear, and it has been heard all over the nation.

Now, it is time to let the government go to work, and actually solve some of the problems that need fixing.

Ultimately, vigilantism cannot be a sustainable or a long-term solution for a city -- it has to run according to rules, which should be enforced by law enforcement officials, who in turn should be held accountable for their actions.

The protests have already borne results, and the government has moved relevant laws for review, so it is time, then, for students to resume normal life.

No, the fight for safer roads is not over -- there is a long way to go yet, but there are ways to continue this fight without sacrificing one’s education and holding an indefinite campaign out on the streets.

Of the demands the protesters have made, the results of some should be visible immediately; others, however, will take time.

When it comes to comprehensive licensing and training, the change will not happen overnight, but we must allow the government to do its work.

Getting off the streets and letting life go back to normal in no way means we are letting the government off the hook -- nor will it reward the government for the crackdown. They have been put on notice and know the price of their inaction.

But it will provide the breathing space we all need as a country right now and allow tempers and passions to cool.

Most importantly, it will put the young and redoubtable protesters out of harm’s way and give the government the chance to fix things.