Three ministers yesterday blasted the BNP over the ongoing student protest across the country.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan made the criticism at different programmes.
Talking to journalists at the Rab Headquarters, Rab DG Benazir Ahmed said the students might not be safe on the streets as criminals could do harm to anyone.
He called upon the guardians, teachers and managing committees of schools and colleges to take back the students from the streets to ensure their safety.
Students in the capital and elsewhere in the country staged protests for the fifth consecutive day yesterday, demanding safe roads and justice for two college students who were killed in a road crash in the capital's Kurmitola area on Sunday.
Speaking at the inauguration of a modern bus terminal in Bhola's Charfashion upazila, Tofail criticised the BNP for “seeking to do politics with everything, including accidents, as the party didn't have any political issue”.
Politics should not be linked to road accidents, he said.
The minister said the bus drivers responsible for Sunday's accident would face legal actions. “There will be no compromise over the matter…. They will face exemplary punishments.”
In the capital, Obaidul Quader said the BNP was depending on quota reformists and the ongoing student movement as it didn't have the strength, courage and ability to wage a movement.
“They [BNP] have no options left. So they will now depend on the quota reform movement and student movement. They don't have the strength, courage and ability to do something on their own,” he told reporters at his secretariat office.
Quader, also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, claimed the intensity of ongoing student protests has weakened.
Regarding the students' demands, the minister said all those have been addressed in the proposed Road Transport Act.
He said checking driving licence by the agitating students was nothing new as he was the first person to begin it in the country.
At a briefing at his Dhanmondi home last night, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan alleged that Chhatra Shibir and Chhatra Dal men infiltrated into the students' movement and they could lead the innocent ones to carry out criminal activities and sabotage.
“The opportunists and vested groups get involved in such a movement. We have a recorded conversation in which Chhatra Dal leaders are asking their activists to join the demonstration in school uniform,” he told reporters.
The minister said a quarter was trying to instigate students by circulating some old photographs to achieve their political goals. “They have been identified and actions will be taken against them.”
Asaduzzaman urged the students to return to their schools and homes as some of their demands have already been met and the others will be fulfilled.
He also urged the guardians, teachers and managing committees of educational institutions to take steps in this regard.
“Any accident or act of sabotage may occur in the current situation. So they [students] should return home. If any incident happens, our law enforcers will not take the responsibility as they are showing patience,” he told reporters.
What the students have been doing is not their job, the minister said. “Let the work be done now by the authorities concerned. All the people of the country have come to know about their demands and they need not to stay [on the streets] anymore,” Asaduzzaman said, adding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the authorities concerned to meet the students' nine-point demand.
Asked whether the students would face harassment for joining the movement, the minister said, “They are our children. What will happen to them? Nothing will happen to them…. I hope the students will not face any problem at schools and colleges either.”
Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed said a vested quarter was trying to redirect the students' emotion.
He said 318 vehicles were vandalised, a police sergeant was beaten up in the capital's Dhanmondi, a government office in Segun Bagicha was ransacked and a police station in Kafrul came under attack during the protest.
“We are urging the guardians to keep an eye on their children so that none can use them in carrying out any misdeed.”
At a briefing at the DMP Media Centre, Additional Commissioner of DMP Monirul Islam called upon the students to return home and asked the guardians to take back their children home from the street.
Monirul, also the chief of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, asked the protestors not to pay heed to rumours spread by some vested quarters on social media.
He said those who were spreading rumours were not students. “They have been identified and will be brought to book.”
SHAJAHAN WON'T STEP DOWN
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan yesterday dismissed any possibility of his resignation, saying it was a demand of BNP, not of the students.
“I haven't heard anything about this [his resignation]. The nine-point demand does not mention about my resignation either. In the demand, they asked for my apology and I have offered my apology. The demand regarding my resignation was raised by BNP, not by the students,” he told reporters at the secretariat.
Shajahan, also a labour leader, urged transport workers not to create any disorder on the streets over the issue.