Protests flare up in Dhaka, elsewhere

Cops disperse schoolboys who blocked Mirpur Road in Science Laboratory crossing in Dhaka on Tuesday in protest at death of two students in road accidents. — Sourav Lasker

Angry protests by students in the streets of the capital and elsewhere in the country continued for the third straight day on Tuesday over the deaths of two of their fellows in an accident at the city’s Kurmitola on Sunday.
The students took to the streets at Dhaka’s Matijheel, Farmgate, Science Laboratory, Mirpur, Badda, Shahbagh, Dhanmondi, Uttara, Agargaon and Dhaka University campus to press home their demands including justice for the victims, safe road for all and resignation of shipping minister Shahjahan Khan who is a transport leader and wore a smiling face when asked about the deaths of the two students.
As the protests flared across the capital and students stayed on roads for hours, traffic came to a halt in many areas while severe scarcity of transports was witnessed in other places, causing immense sufferings to commuters.
The protesting students vandalised several vehicles near Science Laboratory, Mirpur, Uttara and Badda, according to reports received from the areas.
Police were also seen in riot gear charging batons on protesting students at places.
The agitators allegedly also torched three buses – one near Science Laboratory and two at Uttara, according to the police and eyewitnesses.
Two students of city’s Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College — class XI student Diya Khanam Mim, 17, and class XII student Abdul Karim Rajib, 19, — were killed and 12 others injured as bus of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan ploughed through a crowd of students in front of Kurmitola General Hospital on Airport Road on Sunday as three buses were allegedly in a race over getting passengers.
Of the injured students, 10 were admitted to Combined Military Hospital on the day and four of them were released on Tuesday, said Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College principal Noor Naher Yesmin.
Official sources of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said that during their primary investigation, they found that the racing buses had no fitness certificate and the drivers had no licence to drive heavy vehicles.
BRTA already suspended registrations of two Jabal-e-Noor buses, said BRTA Dhaka division deputy director (engineering) Masud Alam.
Meanwhile, shipping minister, addressing a representative meeting of Shramik Karmachari Peshajibi Muktijodhdha Samanway Parishad at BCIC Auditorium in the capital, expressed his apology for Sunday’s ‘unexpected behaviour’, according to a press release issued by the ministry’s senior information and public relations officer Md Jahangir Alam Khan.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan visited victim Diya’s residence at Mahakhali Tuesday afternoon and assured the victim family of justice.
Ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, talking to journalists at AL office at Dhanmondi on Tuesday, said that he, as the road transport and bridges minister, was sorry and ashamed for the accident.
Besides, Dhaka metropolitan magistrate HM Toyaha sent four staff of two Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan buses- drivers Shohag Ali and Zobayer and helpers Enayet and Ripon – to jail after the Cantonment police sub-inspector Reayid Ahmed produced them before the court seeking a 10-day remand in police custody.
The court also set August 6 for hearing the remand petition.
The students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College gathered at Kurmitola around 10:00am and demonstrated seeking justice for their fellows. Police dispersed them charging batons.
Over 500 students of Notre Dame College took position at the busy Shapla Square at Matijheel around 12:15pm by putting barricade on all the eight adjacent roads and halting traffic.
They chanted slogans demanding justice and safe road for all students.
The students withdrew their blockade around 2:50pm after the police managed to calm them, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Matijheel zone assistant commissioner Mishu Biswas.
At Farmgate, several hundred students of Government Science College and Tejgaon Government Boys High School blocked the key Farmgate intersection around 11:00am.
They echoed a nine-point demand that has been circulating among the students, which includes resignation of shipping minister Shahjahan Khan. Police managed to clear the road within half an hour, witnesses said.
At Science Laboratory intersection, several hundred students of City College, Dhanmondi Ideal College, Dhaka College, Government Laboratory College and World University and other educational institutions in the area demonstrated by putting up barricade there about 11:00am, halting traffic in the adjacent area.
The agitating students also vandalised a number of buses and set fire to a Himachal Paribahan bus which was immediately put off, witnesses said.
The students left the place about 2:30pm after a huge number of police took position there and tried to placate them.
DMP Ramna division deputy commissioner Maruf Hossain Sardar said that the students vandalised some vehicles and tried to set fire to a bus. ‘They left the place as we managed to calm them.’
At Dhaka University, students under the banner of Dhaka Bishwabidyalayer Shikkharthibrindo formed a human chain in front of Raju Sculpture in the afternoon demanding withdrawal of the speech of shipping minister and his resignation.
On the road from Shahbagh square to Science Lab intersection, broken glasses were seen after agitated students vandalised vehicles at noon.
They also vandalised vehicles on Sonargaon road near Hatirpool Bazar at the same time.
Around 2:30pm, the number of city service buses was very few on this busy road.
Students were seen to vandalise vehicles in front of Keyari Plaza in the noon and on road no 4/A on Satmosjid Road in the afternoon.
Dhanmondi Police Station assistant sub-inspector Md Mamun said students vandalised vehicles in front of Gonoshasthaya Kendra.
The students of East West University at Badda blocked the road near Rampura while South East University students blocked the road near Nabisco intersection of Tejgaon in the city.
The students of Shaheed Smriti Police College were charged baton when they tried to put up barricade near the college at Kafrul when one student was injured in police action, witnesses said.
The injured, class XII student Ahad Al Shams, 19, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Tuesday evening in an unconscious state, DMCH officials said.
On-duty doctor at neurology department Md Osman told reporters that the boy would need an operation and that any head injury should not be considered minor.
Ahad was later shifted to Square Hospitals in the city, said his father Nur Alam.
The Kafrul police duty officer, however, denied the allegation of charging batons.
At Mirpur, several hundred students of Commerce College took position at Mirpur-1 square around 10:00am and traffic came to a standstill in all adjacent areas. As time rolled on, students of other educational institutions joined them.
The agitators vandalised many vehicles before police dispersed them about 12:30pm by chasing, witnesses said.
At Uttara, the agitating students demonstrated on Jasim Uddin Road, vandalised several buses and set fire to two buses – one of Ena Paribahan and the other of Bushra Paribahan — around noon, witnesses said, adding that the agitators locked in chase and counter-chase with police when police charged the agitators with baton.
Uttara zone assistant commissioner M Kamruzzaman, however, said that the students vandalised several buses and torched one bus but they did not charge baton on the agitators.
In Narayanganj, students of Government Tolaram University College, Narayanganj College and Government Mahila College formed a human chain at Chasara central Shaheed Minar in the city seeking justice for the two students and demanding safe roads.
In Mymensingh, Bangladesh Agricultural University unit of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front (Marxist) formed a human chain on the campus, demanding death penalty for reckless driving, justice for the two students and safe roads for all.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, a network of 269 non-government development organisations in Bangladesh, in a statement expressed their concern at the increasing number of deaths of children in road accidents and urged the government as well as the law enforcement agencies to meet the protesting students with patience so that their rights were ensured.
Transparency International Bangladesh in another statement demanded strict implementation of law to end chaos in the road transport sector.

Source: New Age.

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