Protest paralyses Bangladesh capital after student death

Students block a road during a protest to demand road safety in Dhaka on Nov 25, 2021.
Students block a road during a protest to demand road safety in Dhaka on Nov 25, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (AFP) - Huge crowds blockaded busy streets and harassed drivers in the Bangladeshi capital on Thursday (Nov 25) to protest the death of a high school student in a road accident.

Thousands of uniformed students brought traffic to a standstill around Dhaka's main commercial district and near the national parliament.

Others marched to the city mayor's office, demanding a fast-track prosecution for the driver of a garbage truck accused of fatally running over the pupil.

"We won't return home until we get justice," Sabit Bin Arif told AFP.

"We want justice. We want safety of our lives on the roads. How can we sit back when our friend got killed by such negligence?" the 18-year-old added.

Students were seen approaching vehicles - including police vans - and asking those behind the steering wheel to show their driving licences.

In 2018, similar street protests sparked by the deaths of two students in a bus accident grew into a nationwide movement that stopped traffic around the country for a week, prompting a government crackdown.

The authorities later introduced a road law increasing punishments for reckless driving, but students participating in Thursday's protest said the measures did not go far enough.

"We won't return home until our rights are ensured this time," Israt Jahan Ivy, 17, told AFP. "We are not against the government. We just want safety on roads."