Ibrahim Khalil, a resident of Rampura, was coming towards Kuril of the capital in a Raida Transport bus. After the bus reached Shahjadpur, suddenly some passengers at the back got down shouting ‘Fire-Fire’. In panic, the other passengers of the bus also got down as best they could. Within 5-7 minutes, the whole bus started burning, said Khalil. A case was filed at Badda police station in this incident on Thursday afternoon. The CCTV footage of the area around the incident also came into the hands of the police. According to the police, they have received CCTV footage of the arson. However, the saboteurs could not be identified and arrested.
From October 28 to November 12, 74 such buses caught fire in the capital. Among them, 8 buses were set on fire in Dhaka on Saturday night, the day before the fourth phase of the 48-hour blockade of BNP-Jamaat. It is as if passenger buses have become the target of vandals during the strike-blockade. Arson incidents are happening in buses at any time of the day, morning, afternoon and evening. It is also causing loss of life. Places near police patrols and installations were also set on fire. A case has been filed against each fire incident. In most of the incidents, the police also got the CCTV footage. However, only 12 people were arrested in all incidents. Some of them were arrested by the crowd. In this situation, the role of law and order forces has also been questioned. The people concerned are also worried about why strict action is not being taken against the arsonists to bring relief to the public. In such a situation, several strategic measures have been taken by the police to prevent fire incidents.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner (Crime and Operations) asked about this. b. Mahid Uddin told Jugantar that some new plans have been taken in addition to the old measures to stop the arsonists. Basically, the arsonists carry out the smuggling operations in disguise. They are keeping an eye on the movement of the police and are taking place in empty spaces. Because of this, the matter has become challenging for us.
In response to the question why the criminals are not caught even though there are CCTV footages of many incidents, he said, some are being caught. Many were not caught for the smuggling incident. Actually we have a lot of work. Fire prevention, criminal detection, legal process – all work has to be done. CCTV footage is not everywhere. In some places, vandals have destroyed CCTVs. Analysis of those found is underway to nab the culprits.
According to DMP sources, four and a half to five thousand buses ply in the capital every day. A ‘dedicated team’ of the police will work from today to provide security to them. About 8,000 policemen are working in 50 police stations of the capital to prevent vandalism by setting fire to buses. Another 5 thousand members are working directly in the field. These 13 thousand policemen are being used in various ways. Identifying hazardous areas and accident-prone times. From this, they learned that some of the arsonists are setting fire to the passenger car or from below. For this they are using petrol, gun powder, dyes, cotton, old clothes. Special plans have been made for this time as there are more fire incidents from evening to 12 midnight. Since the empty bus fire is at the center of the terrorists’ target, several instructions have been given to the bus owners regarding the issue. Bus passengers are requested to come and sit in the front if the back seats are vacant. If possible, one person should be placed at the back of the bus. In this, vandalism incidents can be prevented a lot.
Jugantar spoke to the policemen and locals of different police stations in Dhaka. They say that it is not possible to arrest bus arsonists mainly for four reasons. The first is that although there are CCTVs on various roads, most of them are broken. Secondly, the real culprits cannot be identified as the passengers set fire inside the bus. Thirdly, they are unable to identify the faces of potential perpetrators in the areas where the arson incidents are taking place. From this it can be assumed that the criminals of one area are doing arson by going to another place. Fourthly, while on duty, many policemen sit and gossip, are reckless and engage in various activities including playing ludo on mobiles. As a result, the criminals are able to escape quickly by setting fire to the car.
Ibrahim Khalil, an eyewitness to the bus fire incident in Shahjadpur, told Jugantar, I sat on the second row seat of the bus after getting up from Rampura. After crossing the Subastu area, some passengers from behind started coming towards the gate saying ‘stop the car, stop’. Other passengers thought they were asking the bus to stop as it had passed their stop. When the driver stopped the car, the group of three-four youths shouted ‘fire-fire’. Then they went down. Then the fire behind the bus was visible. Passengers disembarked in a hurry. There were 15-16 passengers including some women in the bus. A few were injured when they fell down in panic. Then the fire service came. By that time the bus was burnt. Meanwhile, the police also arrived at the scene. At that time, three or four people from behind got off the bus and got stuck.
It has been informed by the police that they have taken a strategic role in preventing fire incidents. Policemen are taking pictures of the passengers on the bus at different places of the capital. So that passengers can be easily identified in case of vandalism in the bus. They are also meeting with the bus owners. They are also encouraging the bus staff to take pictures. In some buses, policemen are sitting on the passenger seat. Policemen in plain clothes are stationed at different points. Besides, those who have been involved in arson incidents in the past are also being monitored.
DMP Badda Zone Assistant Commissioner Rajan Kumar Saha told Jugantar that arsonists are targeting empty buses and stopped buses. Although some CCTV footage of the fire incident is available, it is not clear. As a result, face recognition is not possible. In this situation, we are ensuring 24-hour patrolling in the area under our responsibility. Patrol teams operating with and without hooters in vehicles. Besides, motorcycle patrolling and foot patrolling are going on. We have continued all efforts to keep the movement of common people safe.
It is known from the police stations that besides these strategies, they are adopting some of their own strategies to keep their area safe. In this regard, the officer-in-charge of Mirpur Model Police Station Mohammad Mohsin told Yugantar, “We have launched ‘surprise checkposts’ at various places. Patrolling has been increased. Working to make passengers aware. In addition to these, we are using our sources.