Dhaka,  Sunday
21 July 2024

Bangla Blockade brings Dhaka to screeching halt

Abdur Rahim, Dhaka

Published: 07:56, 8 July 2024

Bangla Blockade brings Dhaka to screeching halt

Photo : Messenger

Dhaka was nearly paralysed on Sunday, the first working day of the week, by Bangla Blockade, a programme of the ongoing anti-quota movement. Students occupied key points in the capital for six hours, allowing only ambulances to move. Due to severe traffic jams, people were forced to walk for hours to reach their destinations. Students threatened more intense actions if their demands were not met.

On Sunday night at 8 pm, following the blockade at Shahbag, Nahid Islam, a key coordinator of the movement, announced another nationwide blockade. He said that the next blockade would commence at 3:30 pm on Monday across the country, including the capital.

Yesterday, students of Dhaka University blocked Shahbag intersection, Hotel Intercontinental intersection, Bangla Motor intersection, Karwan Bazar intersection, Hatirjheel, and Hatirpul intersection. As a result, traffic came to a halt on multiple connected roads, including those from Science Lab to Matsya Bhaban, Shahbag to Bangla Motor, Mintu Road, Malibagh, and Rampura.

Additionally, students from Dhaka College and Eden Women's College blocked the Science Lab and Nilkhet intersections. Students from several university halls, Badrunnesa Government College, and Borhanuddin Degree College blocked Chankharpool intersection. This caused all roads connecting Mirpur to Jatrabari, including Hanif Flyover, to be impassable for six hours. Students from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University also blocked Agargaon intersection, causing severe traffic jams from Farmgate to the Mirpur area.

It was reported that around 1:45 pm, students from Dhaka College marched from Nilkhet to Science Laboratory intersection. Around 3 pm, students from Eden Women's College started demonstrating at the nearby Nilkhet intersection. Before 4 pm, Dhaka University students blocked Shahbag intersection after a procession that toured various campus roads and ended at TSC. A section of the protesters also positioned themselves in front of the Intercontinental Hotel. After 4 pm, the movement gradually spread throughout Dhaka and the country.

Nahid Islam, one of the coordinators of the anti-discrimination student movement, said the Bangla Blockade program started at 3 pm.

Not just Shahbag intersection, but every point in Dhaka, including Science Lab, Chankharpool, Nilkhet, Motijheel, and Jatrabari, was blocked. Outside Dhaka, students blocked major highways in their respective districts. He mentioned that their movement would continue until their demands are met.

Heated Shahbag; Chhatra League at Madhur Canteen: As part of the ongoing movement, on its fifth day, protesters held a large gathering in the capital’s Shahbag. From 3 pm to 8 pm, they chanted slogans and delivered speeches against quotas. During this time, nearly all of Dhaka from Paltan, Dhaka Medical, and Karwan Bazar to Fakirapool was almost cut off. Slogans chanted in Shahbag's program spread across the country. Meanwhile, at the same time, Chhatra League leaders and activists positioned themselves at Dhaka University's Madhur Canteen.

Saddam Hossain, president of the Chhatra League central committee, and Tanvir Hasan Saikat, general secretary of DU Chhatra League, were seen exchanging greetings and chanting slogans. Students allege that Chhatra League has taken this strategic action at the same time to prevent hall students from participating in the anti-quota movement.

Meeting with Law Enforcement Agencies: Top officials of law enforcement agencies met with three key coordinators of the movement. Hasib Al Islam, one of the coordinators of the anti-quota movement and a student of the Department of Social Sciences at Dhaka University, confirmed this information on Sunday at 7 pm. He said that senior law enforcement officials met with movement coordinators Nahid Islam, Sarjis Alam, and Hasnat Abdullah.

Science Lab and Nilkhet Intersections Blocked: Yesterday from 2 pm, students blocked the Science Lab and Nilkhet intersections in the capital. Thousands of people were caught in severe traffic jams until night. Under the banner of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, students from Dhaka College and Eden Government Women's College participated in the Dhaka Blockade program.

Mahmud Hasan, a student of Dhaka College participating in the movement, said, “We have taken position here as part of the Bangla Blockade program. We won't allow a particular class to take advantage through quotas, discriminating against merit. The movement will continue until our demands are met.”

Nasrin Sultana, a student from Eden Women’s College, said, “We have launched a movement against all kinds of unfair and irrational quotas. Where women are progressing, quotas are ridiculous.”

Demonstration at Bangla Motor: Around 5 pm on Sunday, protesting students took position at Bangla Motor intersection. There, they delivered speeches, sang songs, and recited poetry. The incident led to a halt of traffic from Bangla Motor to Karwan Bazar, Intercontinental intersection, and towards Mogbazar. Students allowed emergency vehicles to pass but turned back other vehicles.

Agargaon Blockade: Protesting students from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University in the capital carried out a program of protest march, assembly, and road blockade. During this time, students blocked the Mirpur-Farmgate and Mohakhali-Shishumela roads for a long time. After 3 pm, students gathered in front of the university's central library, chanting slogans and marching to Agargaon Eight-Road intersection. Later, intense protests developed with the presence of hundreds of students. As the roads were blocked, people had to walk for hours to reach their destinations.