12:00 AM, May 15, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 15, 2010

Cops free cab drivers amid violent protests

15 hurt in police action

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Staff Correspondent

Tejgaon police released the eight taxi drivers they detained Thursday following violent demonstrations in front of Tejgaon Police Station by fellow taxi drivers yesterday.
Police charged truncheons on the drivers injuring at least 15 as the protesting drivers laid siege to the police station and set up barricades on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue for over half an hour around noon.
The demonstrators also ransacked five taxis as the drivers of those vehicles did not join the picketing.
Tejgaon Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mahbubur Rahman, however, said they freed the drivers after their relatives gave them an undertaking.
The OC said a few drivers tried to stage demonstration at the police station. Police failed their attempt to enter the station building, he said.
Witnesses said a few hundred taxi drivers thronged the police station and chanted slogans demanding the release of the eight drivers.
They also chanted slogans against "illegal and whimsical" vehicle requisition by police, which they say causes them sufferings and financial loss.
At one stage, police resorted to truncheon charging and freed the avenue for vehicular movement. Sources said police high-ups ordered Tejgaon police to free the detained drivers during the demonstration.
Since the eight detained drivers were supposed to be produced before court, another group of 400 to 500 taxi drivers thronged the court premises around 11:30am demanding release of the drivers.
They, however, left the court premises when they learnt that the eight would not be produced before court.
Police on Thursday detained the eight taxi drivers following a row over taxi requisition. The row led to clashes between police and taxi drivers that left 20 people injured in Farmgate, Manik Miah Avenue and Bijoy Sarani areas.
Sarwar Hossain, finance secretary of Dhaka City Taxicab Drivers' Union, told The Daily Star that 15 taxis are still missing since the police towed them away Thursday.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police authorities yesterday formed a committee led by deputy commissioner (traffic-west) to probe the incident of stripping a taxi driver of his clothes by some traffic policemen at Farmgate during Thursday's clashes between police and taxi drivers.
Probe committee chief Selim Mohammad Jahangir yesterday evening told The Daily Star that the committee already started working and recorded statements of some witnesses.

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