Sunday, 14 August, 2022

I stand for people’s cause

Says DU student who has been protesting against mismanagement in railway

I stand for people’s cause
Dhaka University student Mohiuddin Roni holds a placard as he has been staging a sit-in programme at Kamalapur Railway Station in the capital for the last 12 days to press for his six-point demand.

We often keep silent when we get deprived of our rights. And the people who cheat us continue to do so as they think we would accept everything in the same way. I’ve decided to lodge protest against such practice so that the corrupt elements beware of citizens’ power and the authorities understand our plight.

This is how Mohiuddin Roni, a Dhaka University (DU) student who has been staging a sit-in programme at Kamalapur Railway Station in the capital with a six-point demand to end mismanagement and corruption in railway for the last 12 days, described the reasons for his protest.

The fourth-year student of theatre and performance studies department said when he tried to book a seat on a train plying the Dhaka-Rajshahi route from the Bangladesh Railway website on June 13, money was deducted from his bKash wallet with only verification code.

The service provider charged money without asking for his PIN. Roni neither got any seat on the train nor was he given any document (receipt) as to why the money was charged.

When he called bKash customer care, he was informed that the money was charged by Shohoz, the company responsible for railway’s e-ticketing system.

As Roni informed the railway officials working in a server room at Kamalapur Railway Station of his

problem,    they said it happened for collapse of the system, asking him to contact them again if the money was not refunded within 15 days. But he was yet to get back the money.

But he surprisingly found that the computer operator in the room was selling the ticket of a seat on the same train worth Tk 680 for Tk 1,200!

The DU student lodged two complaints with the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection on June 14 and 15.

Then he decided to stage protest against the mismanagement and corruption in Bangladesh Railway and started a sit-in programme and mass signature campaign at the station on July 7. He even spent the entire Eid day at the station.

Roni’s demands

Harassment of passengers by while collecting tickets must be stopped immediately and in case of harassment, action will have to be taken after investigation, scalping of tickets must be prevented, the online quota for ‘blocking or booking’ tickets must be stopped and equal opportunities ensured for online-offline ticket purchase, a long-term plan should be adopted for the development of railway infrastructure along with an increase in the number of trains, the performance of train ticket inspectors and supervisors along with other officials should be monitored regularly and the quality of railway services should be enhanced by building strong information system, and food should be sold in trains at fair prices while free supply of clean water and sanitary sanitation should be ensured.

The DU student alleged that he was asked by the railway officials to stop collecting signature of mass people entering the platforms of Kamalapur Railway Station and end his programme.

He, however, vowed to continue the protest for the people’s cause until his demands are met, come what may.

Asked how much impact an individual’s protest can have, Roni said, “If an individual is committed to people’s cause, it certainly matters. And when it comes to me, I am not alone. Thousands of youths are expressing solidarity with my demands and carrying out programmes at their respective railway stations. Millions of people who get deprived of public services are behind me.”

Earlier in April last, Roni went on a hunger strike demanding modernisation of Dhaka University Medical Centre.

He said since the beginning of his protest, a quarter has been trying to tag him as an anti-government political activist. Rejecting such allegations, he said he is an activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall unit.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared a zero-tolerance policy against corruption. I’m also protesting against corruption and mismanagement of Bangladesh Railway officials. Then how I can be termed an anti-government activist,” the DU student said.

Being a BCL activist, he has read ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’ by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he said.

Describing Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as his biggest inspiration, Roni said he has learnt to protest against irregularities from his life.

This correspondent made several calls to Bangladesh Railway Additional Director General (Operations) Sardar Shahadat Ali and Joint Director General (Operations) AM Salah Uddin over the phone to have their versions about Roni’s demands but none of them answered the calls.