Bangladeshi Rickshaw puller Protests Police Corruption by Self-Immolation
Bangladeshi Police Force demands a bribe of TK2,000 (USD $25) leading to Self-Immolation of Rickshaw puller named Shamin Sikder.
Shamim Sikder is a 35 year old rickshaw puller from Norsingpur area of Ashulia, Dhaka Bangladesh. He set himself on fire after traffic police stopped him and seized the battery from his battery-run rickshaw in Dhaka Bangladesh. Battery-driven rickshaws have been banned from plying on highways all over Bangladesh since 2015 due to safety concerns and accidents.
According to eyewitness and the police statement, because of the intense pressure of passengers returning to Dhaka after celebration of the Islamic holy event Eid, Shamim left his village home on Friday with his rickshaw and got on the Abdullahpur-Bipel highway. When he reached the Bipel bus-stand, the on-duty highway Sergeant Aminur Rahman and other traffic police stopped his rickshaw and seized his battery for illegally driving a battery-run rickshaw on the highway.
Watching his only means of survival being taken away from in front of his eyes, Shamim pleaded frantically with the traffic police. However, they only agreed to hand over the battery in return for a bribe of Tk2,000 (USD$25). Barely able to make ends meet, Shamim pleaded to the police officer on duty several times and stated that he did not have the Tk2,000 on him, but the police turned a deaf ear. He finally left the scene after trying in vain for over an hour. After some time, he came back with a can filled with kerosene oil and announced to the police of his intention of burning himself if he could not get his battery back. The police force present at the scene showed no remorse.
With a heavy heart Shamim then emptied the kerosene can on him and ignited himself in front of everyone on the Abdullahpur-Bipel highway.
The public present at the scene rushed him to a near by local hospital, and then later transferred him ti to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital in a very critical state. Shamim, who hails from Bhaijora village of Morolganj thana in Bagerhat, lives with his wife and children in Ashulia. He bought the battery-run rickshaw in installments by selling off the last of his possessions. The rickshaw was the only means through which he could feed his family.
He is now in a critical condition at DMCH Hospital with a 55% second degree burn on entire his body, including his face and arms.
The local police commissioner of Dhaka stated that an investigation is ongoing into any faults committed by the on-duty traffic police officer. However he added that Tk5,000 (USD$60) has been donated to Shamim for his treatments.
For many poor Bangladeshi rickshaw drivers and their families, a battery-run rickshaw is the only means of earning a living and surviving.