Were the student protests ultimately in vain?
For a country that was liberated by the awakening of its student protests, the irony lies in how that very country is unable to meet the demands of the student protests that have taken place in the recent past.
An accurate example of this is what happened when a first-year honours student was killed by a bus in front of Jamuna Future Park. Just six months back, the country was brought to a standstill for over a week due to protests for a similar event where two students were killed by yet another bus.
I was not shocked when I read about the death of Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury, but I felt tired when thinking about how the students were going to protest again for something that might not be fulfilled by the government. It’s as if the government has turned a blind eye on us.
“They are students, they will protest for a few days and then go back to their homes after some consolation.” That might be what the government thinks whenever there is a student protest. If our protests had brought about any effective changes, then maybe Abrar would have been alive today. He died due to the same cause he protested for last year.
The student protest for road safety in 2018 demanded that all vehicles should have fitness certificates, and drivers should have proper licenses to operate the vehicles. This is where the irony further lies -- the driver who was driving the bus that killed Abrar was not licensed to drive public buses.
So, were the student protests of last year ultimately in vain? Should we stop protesting and go about our way, believing nothing will ever change?
Obviously, no. Since the protests last year, some things have changed. The people have changed. Now, a few bus drivers are hesitant to drive harshly. Passengers revolt when drivers begin to drive recklessly, and people on the roads are also more careful when they cross roads. Maybe, after every round of protests, some more bus drivers will be careful. If the government does not change anything, then perhaps the people will. But how many Rajibs, Mims, and Abrars do we have to lose for that to happen?
Sanjana Afroze is a freelance contributor.