Dhaka, Mar 28 (bdnews24.com) — Malibagh is just within five-minute walking distance from Razarbagh Police Lines. But no police were seen during the time when rickshaw-pullers vandalised over 100 vehicles on the road stretching from Purana Paltan to Rampura via Malibagh.
Driver ‘Slahuddin’, whose car was vandalised, told bdnews24.com that there were only two traffic policemen in the area when the demonstrating rickshaw-pullers broke all the window glasses of his car on Monday noon.
“They vandalised one car after another but no police was seen,” he alleged.
‘Jasim’, salesman of a Mouchak Market shop, alleged that the demonstrators attacked a vehicle carrying schoolchildren.
Rickshaw-pullers and owners went on the rampage during demonstrations against a government decision that made the three-wheelers out of bounds on the streets.
Witnesses said the demonstrators forming small groups damaged vehicles with sticks, rods and brickbats.
All the shops in the area were shut during the destruction as panic spread over the people.
The demonstrators, however, left the area when transport workers, local hawkers and shop employees started to gather around 12:30pm.
Police sergeant Bulbul Ahmed told bdnews24.com that the demonstrators went on rampage in the area from 11:30am to 12pm.
“I had nothing to do but inform the control room when they started to vandalise the police box along with the vehicles,” he claimed.
“You’ll be attacked if you protest such an incident,” he added.
Traffic police constable Enamul Haque said, “No one came when the control room was informed. The situation didn’t get worse if they had come in time.”
Ramna police chief Shibli Noman, with two constables, was seen at Mouchak intersection around 12:30pm.
The first vehicle of riot police reached the area around 1pm but left the place five minutes later.
About the absence of police in the area during the vandalism, Noman told bdnews24.com, “We couldn’t reach Malibagh-Mouchak area in time as we completed our preparations centring Muktangan.”
He claimed that one demonstrator was arrested while vandalising the police box at Mouchak Market intersection.
A case was filed in this connection, he added.
Traffic in the capital’s Muktangan, Purana Paltan, Kakrail, Mouchak and Moghbazar came to a halt from around 10:00am to 1pm during the demonstration staged by Bangladesh Rickshaw-Van Owners and Workers Protest Council.
Seven people were also injured during the skirmishes and admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
The council, a platform of 25 organisations, organised a rally at Muktangan to press their 10-point charter of demands.
Council convenor R A Zaman, however, denied vandalising of vehicles by their activists saying they had nothing to do with the vandalism and injury of the seven people.