Demanding safe road and justice for their two peers killed in a road crash in Dhaka on July 29, students from several schools and colleges staged demonstrations across the country yesterday while transport workers observed their second day of undeclared strike.
Several thousand students took to the streets in all four districts of Sylhet division, reports our correspondent.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid urged students to return to their classes.
After attending the convocation of Metropolitan University in Sylhet, the minister said, “Students should return to their classes as the government is fulfilling their demands.”
In Sylhet city, hundreds of students gathered in front of Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar and started controlling traffic in Chowhatta and Zindabazar areas. They were holding placards and chanting, “We want justice” loudly.
Students also checked licence and papers of vehicles, including police vehicles, which created tension between the two parties at Chowhatta point around 3:00pm while they caught a police official riding a bike without any number plate and licence.
Student protesters also staged similar demonstrations in Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Habiganj.
Meanwhile, several groups of transport workers blocked important roads -- in Humayun Rashid Chattar, Sobhanighat, Amberkhana, Akhalia, Lamakazi, Airport bypass, Tilagarh and some other areas in the city and surroundings -- and prohibited movement of vehicles.
Transport workers were seen holding sticks and blocking highways, including Sylhet-Dhaka, Sylhet-Tamabil, Sylhet-Companiganj and Sylhet-Sunamganj.
No buses left any station of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Habiganj. Commuters had a difficult time as no vehicle except for some rickshaws and private cars ran in the city.
Visiting Sylhet bus stand area and rail station, this correspondent found that people were trying to get train tickets as no buses were available.
Selim Ahmed Folik, president of Sylhet District Transport Workers' Union, said they are not running buses because of “safety issues” and bus service will resume when they feel safe.
Students of different educational institutions in Narayanganj poured onto the roads in greater numbers in a show of defiance and determination. Demanding justice and safe road, they demonstrated in Chashara area from morning till afternoon, reports our correspondent.
Like in the past few days, the demonstrators assumed the role of traffic police, checking driving licences and fitness certificates.
Meanwhile, bus services on Dhaka-Narayanganj route remained suspended, causing immense sufferings to the commuters.
Several thousand students formed a human chain at Shaheb Bazar Zero Point in Rajshahi around 10:00am.
Demanding safe roads and removal of the shipping minister, they chanted slogans in unison, reports our staff correspondent. They also staged a sit-in there and sang the national anthem.
SM Abdul Kader, deputy commissioner of police in Rajshahi, and other officials spoke to the students and distributed chocolates among them. They assured the students of security and urged them to remain non-violent.
Hundreds of students in Barisal took to the streets in Battala, Choumatha and C&B road areas in the morning. They also checked licences and fitness certificates of vehicles, reports our correspondent.
Moazzem Hossain Bhuiyan, deputy commissioner of Barisal Metropolitan Police, requested them to remain calm while demonstrating on roads. The protesters cleared the roads around 1:00pm.
Meanwhile, bus services from Barisal to 21 districts including Dhaka remained suspended for the second consecutive day yesterday, causing untold sufferings to thousands of people.
Passengers had to either return home or remain stranded at bus terminals as transport operators refused to run buses.
Transport owners took the decision fearing vandalism amid protest over the deaths of two students, said Aftab Hossain, president of Barisal District Bus Owners' Association. “We also demand safe road,” he added.
Transport owners and workers associations in Chittagong stopped buses on Dhaka-Chittagong highway, citing the unrest in Dhaka -- causing suffering to hundreds of Dhaka-bound passengers.
From yesterday morning, people were seen gathering in front of the bus counters in Goribullah Shah Majar area, but all bus counters were found closed, reports our staff correspondent.
Rafique Ahmed, a businessman, told The Daily Star that no buses were available since morning and he could not attend a meeting in Dhaka due to the absence of long-route buses.
Ruhul Amin, president of Bangladesh Inter-district Road Transport Workers Union, told the reporters that they stopped operating vehicles fearing “attack from protesting students”.
“We cannot risk losing our vehicles to vandalism. This is our livelihood,” he said.
He, however, said Feni and Noakhali-bound buses are leaving Chittagong. Besides, bus communication with the hill tracts was normal.