Thousands of high school students in Dhaka have blocked streets, taken over traffic lanes, and started checking drivers’ licenses to demand better road safety since a boy and girl were struck and killed by a bus a week ago.
Their protests brought Bangladesh’s capital to a standstill and drew rebukes from the government before the education ministry closed high schools across the country and said the students’ demands would be considered. The government has also temporarily blocked mobile internet access to tamp down on the protests.
Widespread corruption in Bangladesh has fueled a road safety crisis, with unlicensed drivers and faulty, unregistered vehicles contributing to more than 12,000 deaths a year. The AP reported that student protestors forced one minister to abandon his vehicle after discovering his paperwork wasn’t in order.
About two dozen students were injured in the clash over the weekend, the BBC reported today (Aug. 4). Police reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds of protestors, with witnesses who spoke to AFP estimating more than 100 were injured.
Local journalists also told the BBC that they were attacked by members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, a student group with ties to the ruling party, which has opposed the protests.