Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Annisul Huq has run into a head-on conflict with truckers at the capital's Tejgaon over his attempt to clean the illegally occupied depot, which has become a source of many 'nonsense and immoral' activities vitiating environment around where thousands of families live.
Annisul deserves salute for showing enough courage to evict the illegal occupiers, which invited a face to face confrontation having engaged police for two days in see-saw clashes with the truck owners, operators and their employees. The Mayor himself as kept confined for several hours during the battle when he showed no sign of losing moral strength or giving up in the face of odds.
Annisul is known for his determination to fulfil pledges he made to the DNCC residents and never is shy of boasting that he has the blessing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who nominated him for the post of Mayor in city election held in April this year.
And, he loves to make promises and tries hard to keep them. That was something that landed him in the open 'brawl' with the truckers --- and others before them --- who are a large group strong enough to immobilize movement of goods across the country.
Annisul's resolute move towards evicting illegal Tejgaon occupiers, including spontaneously grown slums where the truckers and others reportedly run a hefty business of drugs, sex and weapons, may not have scored a grand success in the first go but we hope tangible results will be visible soon.
Annisul virtually ran out of patience under stiff challenges by the truck depot gangs that he uttered a tough warning, 'MASTANI CHOLBENA' (vandalism won't be tolerated). It was perhaps the most appropriate words that he chose to tame the waves of violent protest that apparently won him a respite, maybe temporarily. But that's not the end of the game.
Illegal occupation of a vast Tejgaon area for parking trucks has developed over the decades and with every passing year the occupiers became stronger by forming trade unions, pulling strings with political parties and giving out money to the dishonest law enforcers. But it was Mayor Annisul - a renowned businessman-turned- (mini)politician chosen by the PM for a Mayoral post in the capital Dhaka-who demonstrated his dream for a truly nice mega city by picking up brooms during his election campaign earned immediate attention of the people. Now that he has turned on the truckers is also appreciated by the city dwellers, who speak of Annisul's bravery and his inner strength. However, it's a litmus test of the Mayor, if he gives up at some point his mission will prove counter-productive.
We know the Mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation Sayeed Khokon, son of Dhaka's first Mayor Mohammad Hanif and also a favourite of PM Sheikh Hasina, is surely watching the moves by his northern colleague and feeling tempted to remove illegal occupation and misuse of areas in his half of the city. So far as we have seen, Khokon is not as straightforward as Annisul and so he must prepare himself well before going to act on illegal occupants on the bank of the River Buriganga, the tanneries polluting the river and surrounding areas as well as other sources of people's suffering and damaging environment.
If the Mayors can accomplish their assigned duties - and their own pledges - Dhaka residents will long remember them as friends of the people, agile warriors against odds and above all, as couple of courageous people. But that remains to be tested over the time.
Anis Ahmed is Executive Editor,
The Daily Observer