National Film Award winning actor Ilias Kanchan is the founder and Chairman of the road safety movement Nirapod Shorok Chai (Nishcha). He was awarded the prestigious Ekushey Padak for this initiative. The campaign started after his wife, Jahanara Kanchan, passed away in a road accident, 26 years ago. The actor-activist spent a major portion of his life in establishing this movement. The Daily Star had a conversation with Ilias Kanchan, where he spoke out about his concerns for Nishcha, and his aim of building safer roads for everyone.
Being the founder of Nishcha, you have been actively contributing towards the road safety movement for the past 26 years. What is your greatest achievement during this time?
It is very tough to ‘awaken’ the morals of people. I feel that with this movement, I have somewhat succeeded in doing so. To be honest, I feel like this is one of my greatest achievements. Every year on October 22, the National Road Safety Day is celebrated, and that is also a big accomplishment.
Recently, a certain group of people have opposed you.
What do you have to say about this?
I will start by quoting Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed. He had once said to me, “Not everyone has the courage to keep up with such a challenging movement, like you have. The majority steps behind out of fear. However, in these 26 years, you have never thought of moving out. Keep it up.” Nishcha’s movement definitely makes a group of people unhappy, but I will not back down. The only one I fear is the Almighty. Hopefully, one day, they will realise their fallacies.
What are your expectations from the Government at this moment?
I would like to request the Government to immediately implement the Road Transport Act 2018, without making any amendments, and to restore discipline in the transport sector.
You have received a great support from the 18 film organisations.
Artistes were always in my support. They are my family. I am overwhelmed by their positive reactions on social media. It is a great pleasure to have found many voices that speak alike.
Is there any message you want to convey to the readers?
The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, liberated our country. We have sacrificed a lot for our freedom. We all need to stand up for what is right. We have developed financially, but we need to develop as good human beings as well.