Thousands of students took to the streets in Dhaka on Thursday, protesting the death of Notre Dame College student Nayeem Hasan – who was killed being hit by a garbage truck of Dhaka South City Corporation in Gulistan on Wednesday.
Vehicular movement on most of the city roads collapsed for at least three hours from 11am to 2pm as the students staged demonstrations at Motijheel Shapla Chattar, Gulistan Zero point, Shantinagar, Phoenix Road and Farmgate area.
Students protesting at Farmgate suspended their protest around 4pm, announcing a nine-point demand. They declared a resumption of the movement again from 11am on Saturday if the demands are not met by Friday.
The demands are to expedite the trial of all cases filed over the killing of students, including Nayeem, in road accident in a speedy trial tribunal; to compensate the families of all the students, including Nayeem, killed in road accident; to ensure proper compensation and rehabilitation of all injured passengers and transport workers; to ensure half-pass on road, freight and rail fares across the country for students through the issuance of a circular; ending all forms of sexual harassment towards women in public transport; and ensuring monitoring and accountability of all BRTA activities.
Meanwhile, at a time when thousands of students were demonstrating at different city roads demanding road safety, a compactor vehicle of Dhaka North City Corporation ran over a motorbike in front of Bashundhara Shopping Mall at Panthapath in the capital around 2.30pm Thursday, killing a pillion rider.
In another development, police said that the detained Dhaka South City Corporation cleaner Russel, responsible for the death of Nayyem, was driving the vehicle in absence of the real driver Md Harun.
Russel took the vehicle key from Harun from Sayedabad, said Abdul Ahad, deputy commissioner of Motijheel Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police while briefing the media on Thursday.
Besides, he had no driving license, said the police official.
Around 2,000 students of Notre Dame College blocked the Shapla Chattar intersection at Motijheel around 11am for the 2nd consecutive day, to press demands for road safety and exemplary punishment of the driver responsible for Nayeem's death.
Expressing solidarity with the demonstrating Notre Dame College students, Viqarunnisa Noon School and College students also staged a demo at the capital's Shantinagar intersection, creating long tailbacks at the adjacent areas.
Students of Tejgaon College and Dhaka Science College blockaded the Farmgate intersection. They checked driving licenses and fitness certificates of vehicles in the area. Traffic movement was off for around one and half hours at Farmgate area due to the protest.
From Shapla Chattar, NDC students marched towards the Gulistan zero-point area. The students blockaded the Nur Hossain Chattar, chanting slogan "we want justice" and shutting down traffic movement for two hours. Some of the students were carrying the national flag during the demonstration.
Tahsin Ahmed, a NDC second year student, expressed dissatisfaction over delayed implementation of Safe Roads Act 2019. He told The Business Standard, "Do you remember the 2018 incident, where two students of Ramizuddin Cantonment College were killed in a road accident at Kurmitola area. At that time also students took to the streets and the country heard the outcry of the students for a safer road. But what happened then? We have got a new law, but the scenario has not changed at all."
The NDC students left the Gulistan zero-point area around 2pm and marched towards DSCC's Nagar Bhaban. They blockaded the Phoenix Road in front of the Nagar Bhaban, staging demonstrations that shut down the vehicular movements in the area.
The DSCC Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh came out of his office and met the students. The mayor told the students that he also wants death penalty for those responsible for the death of Nayeem Hasan.