Protest against cop extortion Traders, transport workers block Dhaka-Aricha highway

Bangladesh on 27 August 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star. Image Source: Flickr User Kevin Deen

Several hundred traders yesterday blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway at Amin Bazar for an hour in protest at the increasing extortion allegedly by police.
Police have withdrawn all personnel from the Amin Bazar police camp on the edge of the capital following the incident and deployed a fresh batch of policemen. Police claimed that one policeman was injured during the incident when he shot himself with his own weapon.

Traders said local policemen now demand Tk 80 from each shop on the footpaths at Amin Bazar whereas they used to take Tk 50.

Police officials of Amin Bazar police camp often take vegetables, fish and other food items from the shops but never pay for any of them, local trader Nayem Uddin said. “Sometimes they [policemen] threaten to file cases against us when anyone demands payment,” he said.

The agitation began after two policemen of the camp tried to take meat, without paying, from a shop owned by one Manzu at Amin Bazar market around 8:30am, witnesses said.

When Manzu refused to give them the meat, the duo threatened to implicate him in false cases.

As the news spread, traders and local people carrying bamboo sticks and brickbats thronged the spot, blocked the road and started shouting slogans against police, said people in the neighbourhoods.

At one stage, local transport workers joined them intensifying the agitation.
The blockade that began around 10:30am caused huge traffic congestion over 10 kilometres on the highway from Hemayetpur of Savar to Gabtoli, Dhaka.

It was withdrawn around 11:30am after police high officials assured the protesters of taking action if any policeman had been involved in extortion.
Moshiuddawla Reza, assistant superintendent of police, Savar police circle, who rushed to the spot and quelled the protest, said, “The incident took place following a misunderstanding with the local people.”

Asking not to be named, several traders said Sub-Inspector (SI) Wali Ashraf Khan, who was transferred from the police cam two days back, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Lutfar Rahman and other officials were involved in extortion.

They alleged the police members had been collecting money up to Tk 1,500 a month from local traders and the truck drivers who used Amin Bazar truck stand adjacent to the camp. The policemen also used to take Tk 50 per day from each shop on the footpaths, which has recently been increased to Tk 80.
SI Wali Ashraf Khan, who was in-charge of Amin Bazar police camp, said, “I had no connection with extortion. Sometimes transport workers did not take fare from me though I wanted to pay them.”

ASI Lutfar Rahman also refuted the allegation against him.

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