Dhaka – Two senior ministers of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet are apparently on the opposite poles when hundreds of thousands of people across Bangladesh suffered Tuesday immensely from a nationwide strike called by the transport workers to protest a court order.
The pro-government Transport Workers’ Federation announced the strike Monday to protest a verdict served with a life in jail sentence against a bus driver over the deaths of five people including award winning Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareque Masud in an accident in 2011.
The indefinite transport strike came as whimsical decision by the transport workers despite the convict has the scope to go to the higher court to challenge it. The workers seemed to have taken the people hostage by calling the strike instead.
A senior minister, Shahjahan Khan, who is also a leader of the workers federation has a tacit support ever since the workers began the stoppage in 10 south-western district over the same reason. “They (workers’) have the rights to protest,” he told media on Sunday.
It appeared the minister’s statement fueled the workers to go for the sudden strike.
“An aggrieved person can demonstrate his anger. It cannot be called strike rather it is called voluntary retirement,” the minister told Prothom Alo newspaper on Tuesday when Road Transport and Bridge Affairs Minister Obaidul Quader termed the strike illegal, illogical.
Quader asked the workers to return to their wheels.
On the other hand, Khan who is also the executive president of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, said the drivers are not paying heed to any request.
Earlier on February 22, a court in Manikganj district sentenced driver Jamir Hossain to life in prison over the death of the award-winning filmmaker Tareque Masud and four others in a tragic road crash near the capital Dhaka in 2011.
As no long route buses or vehicles left the capital Dhaka it remained almost disconnected from other parts of the country with no passenger being able to travel by road.
In several districts, workers stopped vehicular movement on highways and even prevented plying of the trucks and lorries.
People on the social media site commented asking the government to handle striking workers with an iron fist. They found the strike illegal.
Former military dictator Hussein Muhammad Ershad, also the chairman of Jatiyo Party, suggested the government to be tough on the protesters.
Some commuters described the strike as anti-people since it caused hellish and unbound suffering for the common people who need to leave Dhaka and to come to the capital urgently.
Quader, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League party, said transport workers have no right to create public suffering centering a court verdict.
“People are not linked with the court verdict. Why they [people] will face the suffering?,” he said asking the workers to withdraw the “illogical” strike immediately.
Quader was addressing a programme organized by Dhaka South city unit of Chhatra League, student front of Awami League.
The minister also asked the other road users to behave responsibly to avoid the rate of accidents.