Dhaka,   Tuesday 23 July 2024

The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস
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Complete shutdown: Dhaka roads see reduced traffic

Complete shutdown: Dhaka roads see reduced traffic

Staff Correspondent With protesters demanding quota reforms in civil service jobs calling for a "complete shutdown" for Thursday, vehicles were moving normally in Dhaka in the morning, albeit in reduced numbers compared to other days. Areas such as Agargaon, Shewrapara, Mirpur, Kalyanpur, Shyamoli, Asad Gate, Mohammadpur, Farmgate, Kawran Bazar, Banglamotor, Panthapath, Dhanmondi, Science Lab and Shahbagh exhibited similar scenes. Police activity in these areas was relatively lax, though RAB patrols were visible on Mirpur Road. Law enforcement was deployed in significant numbers at key points throughout the city. At around 11am, there was a noticeable number of BGB and police personnel in a heightened state of alert near Science Lab. They were questioning anyone they deemed suspicious and detained two suspected protesters for questioning around 15 minutes later. Senior police officials on site declined to comment on the situation. (July 18). The Discrimination-Free Student Movement announced this program to protest the "heinous attacks" on students by the police, BGB, RAB, and SWAT, demanding justice for the killings, ensuring terrorism-free campuses, and a single-point demand. However, there were no reports of picketing by the protesters in any part of the capital. While most shops in the New Market and Science Lab areas were closed, vehicles were seen moving normally, albeit in reduced numbers compared to other days. Abu Taleb, assistant police commissioner of the DMP`s Dhanmondi Zone, said two killings had occurred in the Science Lab area in connection with the quota reform movement, adding that police were on high alert to prevent any further disturbances. In the morning, while alleys in Agargaon and Mirpur areas had open shops, the main roads were largely empty. Local markets and shopping malls had limited entry points open. Some roadside shops were open, while others remained closed. Shopkeepers mentioned opening with caution due to concerns and noted significantly fewer customers than usual. They also indicated readiness to close if the situation worsened. Meanwhile, most shops in the Science Lab and New Market areas remained closed, whereas Kawran Bazar, typically one of the busiest areas, had open shops but noticeably fewer customers. The number of vehicles on the roads was significantly lower than usual. There were also fewer passengers and pedestrians, with public transport being even scarcer. This caused considerable inconvenience for those with urgent matters to attend to, as passengers had to wait and jostle to board the occasional buses. "I came from Rangpur to complete processing for going abroad. I finally found a bus after a long wait and had to struggle to reach my destination," said Sagar, a young man heading from Basila to Square Hospital. Similarly, Mohammad Kayem, travelling with his brother-in-law for a medical test, said they were dropped off in Nabinagar early in the morning and then struggled to find a bus from Gabtoli. “Eventually, we got one and are hoping to return home without further issues." Bus drivers and their assistants said fewer buses were being dispatched from the stands due to low passenger demand, which they felt was sufficient to accommodate the number of commuters on the roads.

Quota reform: Clashes erupt in Badda, other Dhaka areas

Quota reform: Clashes erupt in Badda, other Dhaka areas

Staff Correspondent Students demanding quota reform clashed with police at various locations in Dhaka on Thursday, reportedly leaving several students and others injured. In Merul Badda, near Brac University, clashes between the protesters and law enforcement also resulted in multiple injuries, according to media reports. At around 10:30am, students blocked the road in Merul Badda. By 11am, clashes erupted between the demonstrators and police, who fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, completely halting traffic in the area. As of noon, intermittent clashes were ongoing. Students from various educational institutions also blocked the road at the entrance to Bashundhara Residential Area on Pragati Sarani, with law enforcement on high alert. In Jatrabari, protesters blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, causing a complete shutdown of traffic and severe inconvenience to the public. The protesters began their blockade early in the morning. A significant police presence, including armoured vehicles, was also observed at the Mirpur 10 roundabout, with most markets and shops from Shewrapara to the roundabout remaining closed. Heavy police presence was observed across Dhaka, and the number of vehicles and pedestrians was significantly lower than usual. The protesters on Wednesday declared a complete shutdown, demanding the end of what they called police brutality against their peaceful student movement, justice for those killed during demonstrations, the assurance of a violence-free campus and a rational reform of the quota system. They announced that during this shutdown, only emergency services, including hospitals and media, would remain operational. The announcement followed student protests, roadblocks and clashes with the police occurred across Dhaka and other parts of the country throughout the day. In the evening, Siam, 18, was killed while returning home from work as protesters clashed with police in Shonir Akhra, Jatrabari. The area had turned into a battlefield, with at least eight protesters and two policemen injured. Fires and vandalism were reported, including multiple motorcycles, toll plaza booths on the Hanif Flyover and a police box. Tyres and wood logs were also set ablaze on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway.

Law enforcers to take hard stance against violence in name of protest

Staff Correspondent Following the announcement of a nationwide shutdown program by the anti-quota protestors, tension has once again risen across Bangladesh. This program, scheduled for Thursday, may also lead to conflicts and clashes, similar to previous ones. Although the protestors have announced the program, they have not disclosed the specific locations for gathering. Following the announcement, senior police officials held several meetings. According to police officials, no leniency will be shown to anyone causing public suffering by taking to the streets. Arrest operations will also continue. Legal action will be taken against those accused in various recent cases. The Police Headquarters has called for maintaining a peaceful environment with respect for the law. In a statement, Additional Inspector General (AIG) Inamul Haque Sagar said that creating a chaotic situation in the name of any demand, deteriorating law and order, endangering public safety, and causing damage to property is not acceptable. Multiple police sources have indicated that if protestors block roads and try to disrupt law and order in the name of Thursday’s program, they will be dealt with strictly. Sources reveal that instructions have already been given to deploy additional police in various areas of the capital, Dhaka, especially around government and private university areas and other key points. Armored personnel carriers (APCs) and water cannons will be deployed in important areas, including Dhaka University. Additionally, extra members of intelligence agencies will be deployed for surveillance in Dhaka. Relevant sources indicate that due to the closure of universities, protestors will not be allowed to gather at any specific location. With universities closed, no students will be allowed to enter these institutions. Police will be stationed in front of all schools and colleges in the capital to prevent student entry. Third party infiltrated Intelligence sources claim that a third party has infiltrated the student quota movement, attempting to incite violence in various ways. They are trying to provoke aggressive behaviour by showing solidarity with the anti-quota protestors. The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) chief Harunor Rashid said this to journalists in the Dhaka University area in the afternoon. He said that a group is trying to divert the protestors by providing money and weapons. He mentioned that a list is being prepared, and legal action will be taken. On Wednesday evening, instructions were given to clear all the halls of Dhaka University by 7pm, and most students have left the campus. However, a group is reportedly staying on the campus. Sources indicate that police patrols have been set up around Dhaka University to prevent anyone from entering. Intelligence officers and protestor sources reveal that students plan to gather in the Dhaka University area for Thursday’s program. If faced with obstacles, they may attempt to create resistance in various areas. On Thursday night, unable to gather in the Dhaka University area due to police obstruction, a group started a blockade protest in the Jatrabari-Shonir Akhra area. When the police tried to disperse them, clashes erupted. Reports indicate that one killed while several people, including a child and policemen, were injured. Wishing to remain anonymous, an intelligence officer said that very few of the people involved in the clashes in the Jatrabari-Shonir Akhra area were actual protestors. Local members of opposition political parties engaged in clashes with the police. Intelligence agencies fear that members of opposition political parties may join Thursday’s complete shutdown program and incite violence, taking advantage of the student movement. Additionally, another source mentioned that from Thursday morning, alongside law enforcement, members of ruling party affiliates will guard key points. Local leaders and activists of Chhatra League, Jubo League, and Swechchhasebak League have been instructed by the central command to be on alert.

Village grieves for student killed during protest violence

Staff Correspondent Zakir Hossain, a resident of Manikathi village in Rahmatpur union, Babuganj, Barisal, seemed to have lost the ability to cry. He could not accept that his son had died. He held out hope that the news was false, but the reality would soon overturn his hopes. His son Faisal Ahmed Shanto, a quota reform protester, had indeed been killed in an attack allegedly carried out by the Chhatra League. Zakir, who works on a ship and lives in Chittagong with his family, had come to his village for urgent work. After the killing, relatives, neighbours and acquaintances kept ringing him up to learn more about the tragedy. "What news could I give them?" Zakir said. "The pain of a father carrying his son`s dead body is indescribable.” The thought that his son would never return broke his heart. Around noon on Wednesday, when Shanto’s body arrived home, his parents and only sister Jannat wept inconsolably. Villagers had come to see Shanto one last time. There was not a dry eye among those present. Faisal Ahmed Shanto earned his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) from Bakalia Govt College in Chittagong. He was then enrolled in the accounting department at MEC College. Shanto was good in his studies and his demeanour matched his name – he was a very calm and gentle person. Villagers said Shanto would visit occasionally, but they never saw anything bad in him. His behaviour was just as his name suggested. After the Zuhr prayers, Shanto’s funeral prayer was held in front of Manik Kathi Govt Primary School. Before the funeral prayer, Shanto’s father appealed to everyone to forgive his son if he had committed any offence. “I am the father of a martyr. My son was fighting for truth and was brutally killed.” Zakir also demanded justice for his son’s murder. Several leaders of the quota reform movement, along with Shanto`s family, relatives and neighbours, attended his funeral. Afterwards, Shanto`s body was taken to his maternal grandparents` house in the same village, where he was buried in the family graveyard. People against quota reform had taken up positions with weapons at the site of Tuesday’s protest at Sholoshohor railway station. When students, in small processions, began heading towards Sholoshohor, they were attacked in Muradpur. Shots were fired and cocktails were thrown at the protesting students. Three people, including Shanto, were killed in the attack.

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India Hosts 6th Session of the International Solar Alliance Assembly in New Delhi

India Hosts 6th Session of the International Solar Alliance Assembly in New Delhi

The Sixth Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) convened in New Delhi today, presided over by Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, who serves as the President of the ISA Assembly. Ministers from 20 countries and delegates representing 116 Member and Signatory countries gathered for this important event, according to a press release. In his opening remarks, Raj Kumar Singh emphasized the crucial role of renewable energy sources in addressing global energy challenges. He stated that renewable energy has the potential to supply 65 percent of the world`s total electricity by 2030 and decarbonize 90 percent of the power sector by 2050. The International Solar Alliance is committed to making solar energy the preferred energy source, attracting investments, and ensuring ample energy availability to meet growing global demands. To support this, ISA has expanded its Viability Gap Funding (VGF) mechanism, increasing the grant to 35% of the project cost based on the capacity and needs of member countries. Co-President of the Assembly, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, France`s Minister of State for Development, Francophonie, and International Partnerships, emphasized France`s commitment to the ISA. France has provided significant financial support for solar projects, including the construction of the Onigbolo solar power plant in Benin, bringing 25 megawatts of clean energy to the people of Benin. She emphasized the importance of supporting partner countries in their energy transition plans, said the release. Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General of the International Solar Alliance, stressed the need to accelerate the deployment of solar energy, particularly in developing countries and for applications that enhance the daily lives of those without reliable energy access. ISA is facilitating over 9.5 GW of solar applications in 55 developing countries and providing training to thousands of people in supporting solar energy. The organization is working on establishing STAR Centers as hubs of technology, knowledge, and expertise in solar energy, it said. The Assembly also discussed the ISA`s initiatives, including the development of solar mini-grids to provide universal energy access and mechanisms to attract private sector investment through guarantees provided by the Global Solar Facility. In May 2020, ISA initiated Demonstration Projects in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to showcase scalable solar technology applications and build the capacity of beneficiary member countries. Four projects, including solarization of the parliament building of the Republic of Malawi, solarization of health care centers in Fiji, installation of solar-powered cold storage in Seychelles, and solarization of a school in Kiribati, were inaugurated, it added. Singh dedicated these projects to the respective countries, highlighting ISA`s commitment to advancing the cause of energy transition through solar energy. The Assembly serves as the apex decision-making body of ISA and meets annually to assess the progress of solar energy deployment and discuss key initiatives related to energy access, energy security, and energy transition. The Sixth Assembly of the International Solar Alliance demonstrated the commitment of member countries to harnessing solar energy to address global energy and environmental challenges, the release also said.

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