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Old Dhaka’s cloth traders of Islampur have called for shops to remain open for a specific time, in keeping with health and hygiene guidelines. The businessmen and employees, in protest of the shops being closed down during the week-long government-enforced lockdown starting from Monday, blocked the road and staged a demonstration.

At around 11:30am, over a hundred shop owners and employees blocked the Islampur-Patuatuli main road and demonstrated. Later police from the Kotwali police station and senior officials turned up at the spot and dispersed the protestors after talking to the traders.

Officer-in-charge of Kotwali police station Mizanur Rahman said, “We explained matters in detail to the protesting shop owners and employees and managed to disperse them. They will follow the government’s directives.”

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Cloth merchants and employees who were taking part in the protest said that the month of Ramadan was approaching, to be followed by Eid. This was peak business season. They called upon the government to relax the lockdown because of Eid, and to allow sales and purchase of the cloth wholesalers.

General secretary of the Islampur cloth merchant association, Nesar Uddin, said, “This programme has nothing to do with our association. But yesterday we did call upon the government to allow the shops to remain open in keeping with the health guidelines for a specific time. Islampur is the country’s largest wholesale market and our sales are the highest during Eid. This is the peak time for Eid-centred business. The lockdown at this time will harm us.”

Meanwhile, on the first day of the lockdown, things were quite normal in Old Dhaka. The impact of the lockdown, imposed to control the second wave of coronavirus, was hardly visible in the old part of the capital city.

Traffic seemed normal. While the shops on the main roads remained closed, the shops in the interior were open. Many people were seen roaming around as usual, not bothered about the health and hygiene guidelines.

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