Saturday May 28, 2022

BD floats death penalty for road deaths to quell protests

August 07, 2018

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Monday promised to introduce the death penalty for deliberate road deaths in a bid to quell more than a week of demonstrations calling for better road safety, as new student-led protests were met with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Over the weekend scores of people were hurt as police fired tear gas and mobs apparently loyal to the government attacked demonstrators, photographers and even the US ambassador’s car.

The tens of thousands of teenage school pupils and university students who have paralysed the capital Dhaka and elsewhere for the past nine days — and torched eight buses — are pressing for better road safety after a speeding bus killed two teenagers on July 29. The latest clashes on Monday in the Rampura neighbourhood saw police use tear gas to dispel hundreds of students from a private university, local police chief Rafiqul Islam told AFP.

“They tried to set ablaze a police camp. We fired tear gas to disperse them,” he said, adding four police officers were injured. Students told AFP that police fired rubber bullets at protesters in an area home to two private universities and that members of the student wing of the ruling Awami League party attacked the protesters with sticks and bricks. “The situation is very bad. We have carried at least three students to the nearby Apollo Hospital,” one student, Z. Mallick, told AFP. The lengthy standoff, attracting foreign media interest and criticism from the UN and rights groups, has turned into a major test of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government ahead of December elections. On Monday the law and justice minister Anisul Huq told AFP the cabinet has approved a new law allowing for the death penalty “if an investigation finds that the death in a road accident has been caused deliberately”.

The protests took a violent turn in Dhaka on Saturday, with more than 100 people hurt as police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, according to students and doctors who treated the injured. The authorities have shut down mobile internet services across swathes of the country and Hasina urged students to go home, but to no avail.