My essay on children-led Road Safety Protests in Bangladesh, the government crackdown and the arrest of Shahidul Alam, was published in Himal.
On 29 July 2018, a bus ran over homebound schoolchildren waiting on the sidewalk in the Kurmitola area of northern Dhaka. Two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment School and College, Dia Khanam Mim (17) and Abdul Karim Rajib (18), died; several more were rushed to the hospital. Deaths like that of Mim and Rajib’s are commonplace enough that Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan felt no qualms about making a cavalier response to the deaths. When asked about the dead children, Khan made light of it, saying, “[Yesterday] 33 people died in India’s Maharashtra [state] in an accident. Do they talk about these issues like us?’ The video of his blasé response went viral on social media. None of this was any different from the usual cycle of such events in Bangladesh. But then, something remarkable happened. Uniformed schoolchildren took to the streets in grief, in rage, and they refused to go home.