Bangladesh: Protest of auto-rickshaw drivers

Featured image: Protests in Dhaka; Source: DhakaTribune

Fierce protest take place in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, by drivers of battery-run auto rickshaws due to new implemented restrictions by the government.

On May 15, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader directed that batteryoperated rickshaws will be banned in the capital. The minister stated that no battery-operated rickshaws can be operated in Dhaka. He emphasized that this is not just a ban; it must be ensured that these vehicles do not continue to operate. Additionally, rickshaws and easy bikes have been banned on 22 highways, and this ban must be implemented.

On Sunday, May 19, Drivers of battery-powered rickshaws on Sunday protested by blocking roads in the capital, demanding permission to operate their vehicles. The police clashed with the rickshaw pullers and the protesters set fire to a police box and destroyed several buses. Following there were chase and counter-chases between the protesters and the police with brick-hurling. The police used tear gas and baton charged the people to disperse the protesters who had blocked the road.

Riots erupted after police clashed with the protestors; Source: DhakaTribune

It took about five hours until the police, along with officials of the ruling party, dispersed the protesters. But later, the rickshaw pullers regrouped blocked roads by burning tires. Two fire fighter engines arrived but were obstructed by the rickshaw drivers.

In the aftermath at least four cases have been filed against over 2,500 autorickshaw drivers. These cases are alleged obstruction of police work, vandalism, arson, attacks on the police and detonation of explosives during the daylong protest. Several million Tk (currency of Bangladesh) estimated damage were reported. Dozens of autorickshaw drivers have been arrested and incarcerated. Police raids were conducted and even more people were arrested.

On May 20, in the morning hours, massive gridlocks were reported in the capital, as batterypowered autorickshaw drivers blocked the roads for the second day. Massive police forces had been deployed in the area to bring the situation under control. Later Hundreds of battery-run autorickshaw drivers held a rally in front of the National Press Club and issued their demands: The removal of the ban on the three-wheelers, as well as route permits and licenses.

Rally in Dhaka on May 20; Source: DhakaTribune

Huge nation-wide protests were announced for Monday, but Cyclone Remal has drown Dhaka by unleashing torrential rains and widespread waterlogging in many areas of the capital. Fierce winds associated with the cyclone have uprooted trees, causing substantial traffic disruptions and damage to several vehicles from falling trees. With the relentless rain and strong winds, both vehicular and pedestrian movement came to a stillstand throughout the day. Hence, the protest are expected to take place later on.

Traffic in Dhaka came to a standstill; Source: bdnews24

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