A picture of Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury about to hit a van driver on the palm of his with a stick is making rounds in Facebook on Saturday.
In the picture, the mayor is seen sitting inside his car with his windows rolled down at Sylhet’s Zindabazar area. He has a stick in his hand and he is about to hit a van driver at the side of the road.
Eye witnesses say that the mayor struck the van driver twice on his hands. But mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury has denied the allegations, saying that he didn’t hit the driver, only scolded him for blocking the road to load goods on his van.
Ariful Haque Chowdhury is a member of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The incident took place at 1:30 PM right beside the Al Hamra Shopping City in Zindabazar. According to eye witnesses, the mayor’s car was passing the mall when he saw the van driver loading goods in his van. The mayor then called the van driver and struck him.
When contacted at 4:30 PM on Saturday, mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said, a few days ago city corporation held a meeting with transport workers to ensure there is no traffic jams in the city during Eid. There it was decided that vans will have to complete delivering products by 10 o’clock in the morning. But today (Saturday) while passing through that road he saw that driver loading and unloading goods, which was causing a traffic jam.
He said that the accusation of hitting the driver with a stick isn’t true. He told Prothom Alo, “I didn’t hit that driver with a stick. I just scolded him a bit. I told him to not park his van and cause traffic jam in the future. But for no reason, some people have wrongly interpreted the incident and spread the photo on social media to defame me.”
The van belonged to a cigarette company. A sales representative of the company Dhrubo Bhattacharya told Prothom Alo, “Our driver was in the wrong. We were supplying our products at the wrong time and also in the wrong manner. That’s why the honourable mayor mildly hit the driver and scolded him. As it was our fault, we have no complaints.”
The Facebook users are criticising the mayor for his action, saying that a public representative has no right to strike or scold a citizen with a stick.