Can't oil price hike be protested?

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Different political parties and organisations held demonstrations and protest rallies at different places across the country protesting against the price hike of fuel oil by 42 to 51 per cent.

Wherever there was no obstruction on police’s part, the events were held peacefully there. On the contrary, wherever there were obstructions by police, there were occurrences and many people were injured.

Under the banner of ‘progressive students' organisations’, nine left-leaning students' organisations on Sunday last arranged a demonstration protesting at the fuel price hike.

However, police beat up protesters during a peaceful protest rally, which is actually a revelation of the government’s oppressive nature.

Photographs published by Prothom Alo and Daily Star showed, members of the law and order agencies are attacking students with batons at one point of the protest rally.

Even the female students, who went to save the male students, couldn’t escape police beating. Police apparently beat up the protesting students without any provocation.

From this demonstration of nine progressive student organisations, demands were made to reduce the price of fuel oil. They held protest rallies and demonstrations not only at Shahbag but at different places across the country.

It is the constitutional right of a citizen to be able to carry out peaceful meetings and gatherings. It is mentioned in the article No. 37 of the constitution, “Every citizen shall have the right to assemble and to participate in public meetings and processions peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of public order and public health.”

What is more important to talk about apart from questioning the justification of increasing the fuel oil price is why should a peaceful gathering or procession be prevented? Can't anyone, who is angry with the fuel oil price hike, even protest?

The government has raised the fuel oil price by about 50 per cent in one go and adverse impacts of this have already started falling son people’s lives. Even the policy makers of the government are admitting that, people will suffer due to fuel oil price going up. They increased the price being helpless.

The question is what kind of political situation we are residing in that people are unable to even utter their sufferings! Political or students organisations will face oppression whenever they hold protest rallies-why so?

A while ago prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, if the opposition tries to even seize the prime minister’s office they won’t be obstructed, rather they will be served tea.

However, the law enforcing agencies of the government are unleashing themselves upon protestors whenever they get the chance.

Two people, including the president of district Chhatra Dal unit, were killed in a clash between police and BNP activists centering a protest rally and procession in Bhola. Are the members of the law enforcement agencies doing this by going beyond the government's policy?

The government is trying to blame the students in the Shahbag incident just like the one in Bhola. Harun-or-Rashid, additional deputy commissioner (ADC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Ramna zone said, “Allegations of police obstruction are false. Police did not attack them (student organisations) rather it was they who attacked the police.” This statement of his is not only false but also unbelievable.

If it were the students who attacked the police then, why did they themselves get injured? All the newspapers have published photographs of police charging batons on the students.

Will there be any action against the policemen who attacked or the officials who directed the attack? If not, then it can easily be realised that all of this is happening at the government’s will.

Arbitrary use of the law must be stopped. Otherwise if there are any mishaps, the government will have to take the responsibility. It must be remembered that the results of forcibly seizing people's right to protest is never good. Let oppression in the name of law enforcement be stopped.