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Frenzied students drive buses out of Capital Dhaka  streets
Student-protest over the death of Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury continued on Wendesday morning. Photo. UNB

Frenzied students drive buses out of Capital Dhaka streets

Dhaka, March 20 – The student-led protest for safer roads, which rocked the country last year, was rekindled again after the death of Abrar Hossain Chowdhury, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), in a road accident on Tuesday.
Agitating students from different universities hit the streets for the second day Wednesday, with renewed demands for making the roads safe.
They blocked major thoroughfares across the city for a large part of the day. Later in the afternoon, the students met Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor Atiqul Islam and postponed their agitation
till March 28.
“We have agreed to the students’ demands. I personally believe that the implementation of their demands will make the roads safe,” Atiqul said.
Also yesterday, the High Court (HC) granted the police seven-day remand for Sirajul Islam, the driver of the Suprobhat Paribahan bus that had run over Abrar on Tuesday. The HC bench of Justice Md. Nazrul
Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam also ordered Suprobhat Paribahan to pay Tk. 1 million in compensation to the victim’s family. The company has to pay the money in seven days.
The bench also passed a rule which asked why the continuing failure of the authorities to ensure the safety of commuters on the streets should not be declared illegal and why the family of Abrar should not be awarded Tk. 50 million in damages.
The court order came a day after the deceased student’s father, Arif Ahmed Chowdhury, filed a lawsuit against the owner of Suprobhat Paribahan, the bus driver, his assistant and the conductor, said
deputy commissioner of police (Gulshan division) Mustafa Ahmed.
In a related development, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) cancelled the license of Suprobhat Paribahan and blamed reckless driving for the accident.
Earlier yesterday, the agitating students blocked the streets near Jamuna Future Park. Students of American International University Bangladesh (AIUB), North South University (NSU) and Siddheshwari College joined their BUP counterparts to demand safer roads in the wake of Abrar’s death. The police created diversions at Kalachandpur bus stand and Kuril as traffic at Pragati Sarani came to a standstill
due to the protests.
A large number of policemen lined up on both sides of the roads near the protest site at Nadda and Kalachandpur bus stand.
Traffic movement in other parts of the city came to a halt after the protesters took to the streets at Shahbagh, Dhanmondi, Science Laboratory crossing and Old Dhaka. At the Shahbagh intersection, Dhaka
University students halted the cars and checked their papers like they had done last August.
Jagannath University (JnU) students blocked the Dhaka-Mawa highway to demand safe roads. They led a rally from the campus, after participating in a human chain demonstration, but were stopped by the police. Then, they took up positions at the intersection.
The JnU protestors were also joined by students from Kazi Nazrul Islam College, Suhrawardy College, and other nearby schools and colleges.
To pacify the agitating students, the DNCC mayor and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner, Asaduzzaman Mia, went to the accident site and unveiled the foundation plaque of a footbridge near Bashundhara residential area. This came a day after the mayor promised to build a footbridge there within two to three months. The agitating students, however, trashed the assurance of the authorities and refused to move out from the streets.
“I am always with you. I also want justice,” the mayor told the students. “I also agree that your demands are logical. Stay with me with your demands. I want to work with you,” he said.
The mayor also announced the formation of separate committees of students from every educational institution to ensure discipline on the roads. “These committees will work in tandem with the traffic
police and city corporation personnel to help establish discipline on roads,” he said.
“I will make a serious effort to begin forming these student committees. I am expressing my solidarity with the students’ movement for safer roads. We will work together to resolve this grave issue,” he added.
Abrar, himself a road safety campaigner, was run over on Tuesday while he was reportedly using a zebra crossing to cross the road near Bashundhara residential area. The accident came during DMP’s ‘Traffic
Week’ drive to bring discipline on city streets. – Staff Reporter