POST TIME: 4 August, 2018 12:37:56 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 August, 2018 12:08:54 PM
People stand in solidarity with students’ protests
Demo for safe roads continue on public holiday; transporters go on strike
Staff Reporter

People stand in solidarity with students’ protests

(Left) Columnist activist Abul Maksud addresses a human chain in front of National Museum in the capital yesterday, denouncing the killing of people in the name of road accidents across the country. (Right) Champion of the cause of road safety in the country actor Ilias Kanchan speaks at a human chain in front of the National Press Club yesterday. INDEPENDENT PHOTOS

People from all strata joined the ongoing students’ movement for safer roads yesterday even as transport owners and workers called a wildcat strike, disrupting road communication in Dhaka and other places. Hundreds of people, including guardians of students, formed a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club in the capital to protest against road-accident deaths and to demand exemplary punishment for the guilty. A similar demonstration was held in front of Shahbagh Museum. Several prominent citizens, including communist leader Abul Maksud, participated in the agitation.

With the students’ movement continuing for the sixth day yesterday, transport owners and workers suspended the plying of vehicles in Dhaka and different districts, causing immense suffering to commuters caught unawares by the suddenness of the strike. The transport owners said they took the decision as the drivers and workers felt insecure on the roads due to agitating students. They also said they would start plying their vehicles once the situation calmed down.

All long-route buses were parked at the inter-district terminals at Gabtoli, Mohakhlai and Sayedabad, while local public transports were parked on the roadsides.

Only CNG-run auto-rickshaws, rickshaws, pick-up vans, some private cars and motorbikes run by ridesharing services like Uber and Pathoa could be seen on the streets. In the absence of public transport, many people were forced to hire other alternative vehicles at steep rates, while others chose to walk.

Meanwhile, the agitating students checked the papers of the drivers and vehicles plying on the roads at Uttara, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Shahbagh, Asadgate, Gabtoli, Rayerbagh and Jatrabari. As in other days, they seized the keys of vehicles without valid papers and handed them to traffic police for appropriate action.

At Dhanmondi, hundreds of students hit the streets since early morning and controlled traffic movement from Manik Mia Avenue to the Rapa Plaza intersection. The students assumed the role of traffic police in instructing private cars, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and bikes to follow traffic rules and

make space for an emergency lane for ambulances. They also made the pedestrians to use zebra crossings and footpaths.

In order to express their solidarity with the students, their guardians formed a human chain with them in front of Sony cinema hall at Mirpur-1 to demand justice for the two students killed in a road accident on Sunday.

Hundreds of students gathered at Mirpur-10 intersection to protest against the deaths. Actor Ilias Kanchan, who is also the founder of “We Demand Safe Roads”, was present at the human chain programme in front of Jatiya Press Club. He urged the students to go back home after giving a condition to the government to implement their demands. “The government has agreed to comply with the students’ demands. It should start implementing them from Sunday,” the actor said. “The young students have made the path of the government easy. Now, the government can enact stern laws. People want a tough law on the roads,” he added.

Among other organisations that expressed solidarity with students at Jatiya Press Club were Save the Road, Kendria Khelaghar Ashar, Sandip Samity Dhaka, Gonosonghoti Andolon, Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Parishad and Insaniyat Biplob.