Uproar over Bangladesh 'human bridge' incidents

DHAKA • The Bangladesh authorities ordered investigations yesterday after images of a politician and a wealthy businessman clambering over groups of students, who had been forced to form human chains, went viral.

Parents lodged complaints this week after dozens of students were made to stand and form a bridge with their bodies for an elected mayor who then walked over them in the central district of Chandpur on Monday.

It was followed by reports of a similar incident a day before, in which a businessman was seen walking on the shoulders of students in a celebration to mark his donation of a piece of land to a school in the district of Jamalpur.

Photos of the incidents have since gone viral on social media and were widely published in local newspapers, sparking criticism.

"This is a very disturbing and bizarre incident. I've directed the police to take the necessary legal steps," said Mr Shahabuddin Khan, chief government administrator of Jamalpur district.

"The students' parents said they did not send their kids to school to be part of this kind of thing which has a negative impact."

Chandpur's district administrator appeared to defend the mayor Nur Hossain, who is a ruling Awami League party official, saying it was a traditional celebration for an honoured guest.

A screen grab from a video posted on social media shows a businessman in Jamalpur and a politician in Chandpur walking on "human bridges" at schools.
A screen grab from a video posted on social media shows a businessman in Jamalpur and a politician in Chandpur walking on "human bridges" at schools. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

"But we've ordered an investigation. We are trying to find out whether the elected official did it intentionally," he said, adding that the mayor has since "apologised for his action".

It was not immediately clear whether either man had actually broken the law but there were widespread calls on Facebook for their arrest on the grounds they had humiliated students.

"The people who organise and participate in such events should be punished. We don't need any tradition which requires belittlement of human beings," Facebook user Ariul Islam wrote.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Uproar over Bangladesh 'human bridge' incidents'. Print Edition | Subscribe