School-going children and their parents are in fear of arson attacks on public transport, vandalism, and clashes with the police in various parts of the country, including Dhaka, due to the ongoing blockade by the BNP and like-minded parties demanding the resignation of the government.
Students are forced to go to classes regularly as educational institutions have not suspended academic activities, while many institutions have annual exams amid the blockade that has been going on for the past two weeks.
Many parents said they are afraid to send their children to school for fear of political violence.
According to the Fire Service control room, at least 160 fire incidents have occurred across the country from October 28 to November 14. Of these, 86 occurred in the capital alone.
In all these incidents of arson, three people, including the helper of the bus, were killed, and seven injured persons are being treated at the Surgery and Burn Institute of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Three of the injured are in critical condition.
Besides, about a dozen people, including a police constable and pedestrians, lost their lives in clashes and attacks on October 28.
Talking to the parents and students of Dhaka in the last two days, it was found that children are not being allowed to travel by bus in the event of a fire on public transport. Some of the students travel to school by rickshaw, some by school van, or some by walking.
Sanjana, a seventh-grade student at Motijheel Ideal School and College, said that she is not allowed to travel by bus. “Due to the blockade, the rickshaw fare has risen from Tk50 to Tk100. But if you travel by bus, it costs only Tk10 for a two-way journey,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
Talha, a ninth grader from the same school, walked home with classmates during the days of the blockade.
“I used to go home by bus because the fare was very low and convenient for students. But I have seen on TV and in newspapers that buses are being torched. So my parents asked me to avoid bus travel.
“On the other hand, the rickshaw fare has also increased these days. So I walk home most of the time,” she said.
Businessman Sumit Hawlader was waiting in front of Kamalapur School and College to take his daughter home. He expressed anger at the attack on public transport and the loss of life.
“The final exam at the school will start soon. But with the announcement of back-to-back blockades, the situation is unstable everywhere. Arsons, clashes, police action… In this situation, children are afraid to go to school. So I am accompanying her nowadays. I do not feel relieved when she is alone.”
Meanwhile, the final examination of Dhanmondi Holy Flower School students has started amid the blockade. So third-grade student Manha has to go to school regularly.
“The other day, there was a crude bomb blast in front of my house. I did not go to school because of fear. But now that the exams have begun, I have no option but to go to school,” she said.
Manha’s father, Mamun Mridha, said: “I and her mother are both job holders. So our daughter used to travel in the school van. But because of the violent incidents, even if it is difficult, I accompany her to and from school.”