Hundreds of students demonstrated in Dhaka on Wednesday (20) after a teenager was struck and killed by a speeding bus, just months after a similar accident sparked Bangladesh’s biggest anti-government protests in decades.
Students chanting “We want justice!” blocked several major intersections in the bustling capital of 20 million, demanding the government take road safety seriously a day after a teenage pedestrian was mowed down.
“We request all students to return to their classrooms. Let us do our work,” said Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia.
The protests rekindled memories of major street demonstrations last August that lasted a week and erupted after two students were killed in a road accident.
Tens of thousands took to the streets as the marches grew into a broad challenge against prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who has been accused of waging a crackdown on dissent under a rule.
Police responded then by firing tear gas and rounding up scores of students and prominent government critics who joined the marches, with some beaten.
The heavy-handed response to a peaceful demonstration attracted international criticism.
Hasina, whose chief rival is behind bars, was elected in December for a third consecutive term in a poll marred by rigging allegations and the mass detention of opposition figures.
Bangladesh’s transport sector is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated and dangerous. Thousands of buses and lorries ply the roads without certificates of roadworthiness.
About 12,000 people die each year in accidents on Bangladesh’s notorious roads, according to a monitoring group.