People in Narayanganj had to suffer yesterday as police closed three roads leading to the town from 1:00pm to 4:00pm to facilitate ruling party lawmaker Shamim Osman's rally marking National Mourning Day.
The blocked roads were: Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road, Dhaka-Narayanganj Old Road and Narayanganj-Shimrail Road.
Earlier on July 22, Shamim Osman announced that he would hold the mourning rally. Following the announcement, police on Friday made a decision that the roads would be closed to traffic yesterday.
Due to the blocking of the roads, many commuters, including students were seen riding on rickshaw-vans and on the back of trucks as they were unable to find any suitable transport. Frustrated, many simply started walking.
Mohammad Belal Hossain came to Narayanganj from Chittagong for a job interview. The interview ended at 1:00pm but he kept on waiting at Chashara bus stand for a vehicle. “I have been waiting for two hours to find one.”
He eventually took a rickshaw-van and headed towards Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Fatullah Sign Board area. “I don't think I'll be able to find any vehicle before night. Now I'm worried whether I'll be able to return home today.”
Mohammad Shafique, a private job holder, was waiting for transport on Link Road for around 30 minutes. He said he had to head back to the capital.
“This has become a tradition here [Narayanganj]. Everything just stops abruptly if there's any occasion. I may end up losing my job, if I fail to reach on time,” said a worried Shafique.
Meanwhile, Sohel Parvez, a student of Narayanganj Government Tolaram College, said, “I came to the college on a bus this morning. But nothing is available now. I heard that the traffic movement has been stopped due to a mourning rally.”
Sohel eventually got on a rickshaw-van to go home. He said he will have to pay Tk 50 for the ride, which is way more than what he usually spends.
Commuters were seen waiting at bus stations for hours to find transport.
Dhaka-bound Hafizul Islam, president of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Narayanganj district, was waiting for a bus at Chashara bus stand.
“One does not need to block traffic movement to mourn Bangabandhu. Where does it say you have to create sufferings in order to express your grief?”
“Those who respect Bangabandhu and mourn his death do it from their heart. Not by making people suffer,” he added.
While visiting the blocked roads from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, it was seen that additional police were deployed in the areas.
Stoppage of traffic, coupled with drizzle not only increased the sufferings of people, many goods-laden vehicles had to remain stranded.
According to traffic police sources, ruling party lawmaker Shamim Osman called for a rally in observance of National Mourning Day on July 22. As a result, three entry points to the city were kept closed to traffic from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
But Abdur Rashid, additional superintendent of police (traffic) of Narayanganj district, said traffic movement was suspended from 2:00pm.
He said the Awami League activists would enter the town in large numbers to join the rally. If traffic is allowed to move normally around that time, it would create a commotion. “Everything will be normal once the programme ends.”
Meanwhile, a Shamim Osman-led “black-flag” procession was brought out from Chashara Salimullah Road to Bangabandhu Road around 4:15pm.
Earlier, Shamim Osman addressed a gathering on Chashara Salimullah Road standing on the back of a truck. He said, “I wanted to invite everyone to the rally and wanted to get on the stage with them.”
He said that was why he invited all including the presidents of Awami League district and city units.
He said he also invited his “dear younger sister Ivy” over the phone.
“Many of the activists are angry as to why they did not attend. They might have some prior engagements.”
“But we will hold more rallies in future where all of us will stand together,” he said.
The rally ended around 5:00pm, followed by hour-long traffic congestion in the city. Traffic movement eventually became normal after 6:00pm.