Dhaka: Thousands protest for 6th straight day after 2 teens are killed by bus

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 03, 2018, 06:13 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

The Bangladeshi capital Dhaka came to a standstill Friday after tens of thousands of students protested for a sixth straight day against the killing of two teenagers by a speeding bus.

Following the protests for proper road safety regulations, major intersections in Dhaka were blocked by protestors for five straight days. Vehicles were also vandalised.

The demonstrators, mostly students in their mid-teens also brought traffic to a standstill as they marched through the streets chanting "we want justice".

Authorities have pleaded to call off the protests that have near-paralysed Dhaka and beyond and prompted foreign embassies to issue travel alerts.

On Wednesday, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan promised that the government would launch a public transport safety campaign and urged the protesters to go home.

"People are suffering and we don't want this," he said.

Anger has not subdued since a bus racing for passengers killed a boy and girl on the roadside on Sunday, igniting the protests.

Bangladesh's transport sector is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated and dangerous, and as news of the teenagers' deaths spread rapidly on social media they became a catalyst for an outpouring of anger.

An insensitive comment by Shajahan Khan, a government minister with ties to powerful transport unions, also triggered fresh outrage.

Khan questioned why there was such an uproar over the two Dhaka children but no reaction when 33 people were killed in an Indian bus crash the day before.

There have been widespread social media demands for his resignation even though the minister later apologised.

The education ministry shut down high schools Thursday in an effort to quell unrest, promising students their demands for reforms to road safety would be considered.

In some parts of Dhaka, students occupying major intersections Thursday checked licence plates and demanded to see driver identification and registration documents.

"We don't want any vehicles without licences on the streets. Those unfit to drive should not get licences, and we don't want underage motorists driving public transport," said one protester, Mohammad Sifat.

Many residents were forced to walk across the congested capital to offices and workplaces.

But some joined the students, frustrated at the government's inability to tackle Dhaka's notoriously dangerous roads.

According to the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, a private research group, more than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in road accidents last year, a 25 percent increase from 2016.

(With inputs from AFP)

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