Today could be a tough day for city dwellers, especially HSC examinees, as two streets would be off limits to traffic and there would be diversions at 25 intersections centring the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation’s (BIF) rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
Around 3,000 buses with thousands of BIF officials, staff, imams and Olamas would be converging in the capital from across the country for the 3:00pm rally.
Such a large number of vehicles entering the capital and parked inside the city might trigger standstill traffic on major thoroughfares today and on top of this, there would be VVIP movements, which could make matters worse.
Against this backdrop, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) asked people to avoid going to some shopping arcades — Bashundhara City, New Market, Gawcia Market and markets on Elephant Road — and getting their cars out near the venue.
Some officials of the education ministry recommended HSC examinees head out for their exam halls a few hours early.
The English first paper test is at 10:00am today.
The street between Shahbagh and Matsaya Bhaban and the one between Shahbagh and Doel Chattar via TSC would be closed from 10:30am.
From noon, police will divert traffic at Bijoy Sarani, Khamarbari, Bangla Motor, Moghbazar, Paribagh, Sakura Gali, Police Bhaban, Sabji Bagan, Mintu Road (east), Officers’ Club, Kakrail Church, Shilpakala, ACC Office, Matshya Bhaban, Kadam Foara, High Court, Shahidullah Hall, Bakshibazar, Palashi, Nilkhet, Ruman Chattar, Kantaban, Shahbagh and Aziz Super Market.
Examinees and their guardians fear that they would have to suffer a lot today. They questioned why the rally was not being held during the weekend or after the exams had ended.
Around two lakh HSC examinees are sitting for the exam in more than 100 centres in the capital. Most students have at least one guardian accompanying them to the centres.
“If the major streets are blocked, how can we reach the exam centre? Is it possible to reach there walking from a long distance?” questioned Rina Jobaida Hossain, mother of an examinee.
“What would be the fate of those examinees and guardians who come from Savar, Dhamrai and Narayanganj?”
Hasan Sayeed, another guardian, said usually the traffic situation deteriorates during any public exams. “If such a huge rally is planned on an exam day, we can’t imagine what is waiting for us.
“Usually, examinees are tensed ahead of tests. This will make them more nervous which may affect their performance,” he said, adding that they would leave for the exam centre a lot earlier.
Contacted, Dhaka Education Board Chairman Prof Mahabubur Rahman said he did not know about the rally.
He, however, expressed optimism that the examinees would not face any problems as they usually show up way ahead of time.
“The parents in Dhaka are aware of their children’s examinations and the traffic system,” he said.
The BIF is holding the grand rally, with an expected crowd of 2 lakh, to mark its 42nd anniversary. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would inaugurate the rally and be the chief guest.
The BIF usually celebrates its anniversaries on March 22 and holds the programme indoors, but this year they have gone big, outdoors and on a later date. Last year, the programme was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Asked why such a large gathering, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, a BIF governing body member and the convener of the programme, told The Daily Star that they were holding the programme this way “to dispel rumours that the Awami League government and Bangabandhu are anti-religion”.
Asked why today, Abdullah, also the religious affairs secretary of the AL, said they tried to hold the rally on other days but, among other things, it was difficult to find a slot in the PM’s schedule and there were issues with guests’ arrivals. Six guests are coming from Saudi Arabia, including the imam of Haram Sharif.
DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia at a press briefing at its media centre yesterday said they have taken up a multi-layer security system in around one kilometre area of the venue.
Intelligence agency officials, DMP’s bomb disposal unit and Special Weapon and Tactic Team (SWAT) would be on standby while the entire venue would be monitored in real time via CCTV, said the DMP boss.
“We are also requesting you all [citizens] not to bring out your cars on the streets near the venue tomorrow [today] unless absolutely necessary because there will be 3,000 additional vehicles carrying the participants of the rally,” he said.
The participants were asked to park their vehicles at designated spots after entering the capital and reach the venue on foot, he said.
The parking spots are in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon Taltola, southern end of Hatirjheel, Aftabnagar, AGB Colony, Gulistan, Dainik Bangla intersection, Baninagar, Khilgaon, Sanir Akhra and Doyaganj areas.
The restrictions on vehicular movements would be withdrawn as soon as the rally ends, he said.
Responding to a question whether there were any specific threats, the DMP commissioner replied in the negative.
Source: Daily Sun, Dhaka, Bangladesh