One of the risks of riding a train in Bangladesh is getting hit by stones. Many train passengers have been seriously injured in such incidents. Authorities have previously promised to take steps to bring a stop to the acts. But so far, no measures have come to fruition.
Now, Mokhlesur Rahman Sagor, a young Bangladeshi activist, is asking the authorities to provide exemplary punishment of the miscreants responsible for throwing the projectiles.
On Saturday, Sagor held a lone-protest in front of the National Press Club to raise awareness against throwing stones at trains and demanded punishment of the miscreants who conduct the harmful act.
Sagor said last week several train passengers were severely hurt in Benapole, Narshingdi and Brahmanbaria after being hit by stones.
"I am here to protest against those incidents," he said.
Sagor is a well-known name in the Bangladeshi community activism. An Honors graduate in Accounting from Tejgaon College, he has been holding lone-protests and campaigns to raise social awareness about several social issues for years.
"I do not have the ability to gather 20-50 people. There is a matter of the expense. So, I protest alone," he said.
Last year he held a protest in front of the National Press Club with mosquito nets demanding preventive measures against Dengue and Chikungunya, which stirred up discussions.
Regarding his latest protest against stone-throwing at trains, he said the government needs to take a tougher approach to stop these crimes. Also, security forces need to be deployed to places where such incidents happen often.
"Riding a train is a safe and comfortable means of transportation. But the perpetrators behind such incidents are making it unsafe. This is damaging public property and endangering peoples' lives," he said.
According to the Ministry of Railways, every month 30 to 35 incidents of stone-throwing at running trains occur across the country. On average, the windows of 20 doors of several trains sustain damage, every day, from stones. In the last five years, the number of such incidents amounted to more than two thousand. Every door window costs Tk15,000 to Tk100,000.
Most of the stone-throwing happens in: Sholosahar, Fouzdarhat, Sitakundu, Chowmuhuni, Shashidal, Imambari, Akhaura, Kasba, Paghachang, Bhatshala, Sayestaganj, Srimangal, Kulaura, Narshingdi, Pubail, Gafargao, Mohonganj, Sarishabari, Tongi, Kawran Bazar, Fatulla, Lalmonirhat, Pirganj, Senatala, Chuadanga, Kawnia, and Tista.
Throwing stones at a running train is a criminal offence in Bangladesh. According to Railway Act 127, any perpetrator found guilty of the crime can be given a life sentence and be fined up to Tk10,000. Also, if someone dies after being hit by the stones, there are laws for awarding the death penalty under section 302. But till now, no one has been given such punishment.