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Shawkat Ali was waiting for a passenger with his motorcycle at the Gulshan-Badda link road on Monday around 9.30am. All of a sudden a traffic sergeant came and took away his papers. After that, he urged the police officers there not to file any case and return his papers. However, he did not get his papers back and set his motorcycle on fire out of fury.

After the incident, Badda police interrogated him in custody. Later he was taken to the office of deputy commissioner of Gulshan traffic division. He was released from there around 9.30pm.

Shawkat told reporters, "I ride the motorcycle all day, but the app company takes 25 per cent of the money. It is not fair. Again police will fine me if I ride without using any app. I couldn’t take it anymore and set fire to my motorcycle.”

Regarding the incident, Rabiul Islam, deputy commissioner of Gulshan traffic division told Prothom Alo, “There is always heavy traffic on the Gulshan link road during the office hours. Amid this heavy traffic some people park their motorcycles in a way which further hinders the movement of vehicles. For this reason, the on duty traffic sergeants take papers from the motorcycle riders. However, no case was lodged against Shawkat. He set his motorcycle on fire even before any case was lodged.”

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Zakir Hossain, an eye witness of the incident and owner of local “Bhai Bhai Store” said, “Shawkat was waiting in front of my shop. There were several other motorcycles as well. All of a sudden a sergeant came and took papers of the motorcycle riders.

Moments later, that man (Shawkat) unplugged the oil pipe of his motorcycle and set fire with a lighter. When I rushed there with water to douse the fire he intercepted me. People nearby were recording a video of this incident with their mobile phone. Members of the police were also present on the spot.”

Later Prothom Alo spoke with Shawkat Ali. He said he had a shop of sanitary products in Keraniganj. He could not reopen the shop after it had been closed during the first lockdown. In the meantime, he incurred a loss of Tk 900,000. He was somehow running his family by borrowing from others. About a month and a half ago he bought a motorcycle for Tk 80,000.

Shawkat said, “A few days ago, police fined me with Tk 1000 in a case. On Monday, they (police) again took my papers to file another case against me. I requested the sergeant not to file any case and return my papers. However, he (sergeant) refused to do that. For this reason I set my motorcycle on fire. It was my protest.”

Officer-in-charge (OC) of Badda police station, Abul Kalam Azad told Prothom Alo, “We have interrogated Shawkat Ali regarding the incident in custody. He was in mental stress due to the loss in business. For this reason he set fire to his motorbike out of frustration and emotion.”

Shawkat has committed an offence by setting fire in this way, the OC said adding that however, no case has been lodged against him on the humanitarian ground.

In the meantime, a video of the incident went viral on social media. Many have termed this incident unfortunate. Many have made comments sympathising with Shawkat.

A man named Mizan commented, “This is the sad reality.” Another name Mukimul Ahsan wrote, “How much helplessness can lead a man to do this!”

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