Hawkers’ leaders and DSCC mayor continue trading blows
The leaders of hawkers in Dhaka’s Gulistan and Motijheel areas have threatened to cordon off Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon in Nagar Bhaban if the city corporation runs further eviction drives without rehabilitating them first, while Khokon has called the hawkers’ movement a conspiracy by extortionists.
The leaders and activists of at least seven hawkers’ associations of Bangabandhu Avenue, GPO intersection, outside of Baitul Mokarram national mosque, Gulistan, Doinik Bangla and Motijheel jointly made the announcement at a rally in front of the National Press Club on Thursday.
Hinting at the involvement of police and Bangladesh Chhatra League members on behalf of the DSCC, Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union Convener Abul Hossain said: “The hawkers businesses will not be stopped by threats from the so called attacking force. Rehabilitation first if anyone wants to free footpaths.”
“Our movement will continue until our demands for rehabilitation are fulfilled,” he added.
Addressing the DSCC mayor, National Hawkers’ Federation Convener Arif Chowdhury said: “Car owners have been occupying footpaths, roads and other free spaces all over Dhaka, including in one of the busiest areas, Motijheel. You don’t say anything to the rich. But you have been busy with how to evict the poor from the city.”
“Stop the eviction drives against hawkers, otherwise the hawkers will be forced to blockade you in Nagar Bhaban (the DSCC headquarters),” he warned.
The rally, moderated by Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union leader Monjur Moin, was also addressed by Hawkers’ League President Harun-ur-Rashid and Jatiyo Sammilito Hawkers Jote Advisor Sardar Khorshed, among others.
Also Read: Court sends BCL leaders to jail over Gulistan eviction clashes
On the other hand, Khokon called this hawkers’ movement a conspiracy by a small group of extortionists.
He made the remark at the unveiling of a competion to select the design for a development project of Sheikh Kamal Sarani of Mirpur road, at Nagar Bhaban on Thursday.
“After starting the recovery of footpaths at Gulistan and Motijheel, a few extortionists started to create unrest in the name of the hawkers’ rehabilitation. I ask the city dwellers to resist such such criminals who instigated the hawkers,” Sayeed Khokon said.
The DSCC Mayor claimed there were around 72 extortionists who collected money as linemen, saying a case was filed against them on Thursday at the Estate Department of DSCC, although he did not specify their names.
It was learned from a DSCC source, asking not to be named, that the accused include linemen and several hawker leaders.
Of the 72 accused, 16 are currently detained at Motijeel Police Station, with seven at Shahbagh Police Station, and 49 in Paltan Police Station.
Shahjahan Orfey alias Lombu Shahjahan and Harun Orfey alias Lombu Harun, both from Munshiganj, are the prime accused among those detained at Shahbagh and Paltan respectively, while Saiful Islam from Jamalpur is the prime accused among those detained at Motijeel.
“We want to bring in all the criminals who are involved with illegal occupations and extortion. For this, we need help from all, and I am confident that these people will return to the lawful path,” he said.
Khokon further said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed to free the city from illegal occupation, adding that it would be achieved very soon.