MUMBAI, India – Both students and government forces in Bangladesh should avoid violent confrontation, the country’s highest-ranking Catholic cleric says.
There have been street demonstrations in the capital, Dhaka, since two students were killed in a road accident on July 29.
People associated with the regime armed with sticks and machetes have attacked protesters, and some of the students have also been accused of violence.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has denied the allegations that its activists were involved.
The protests – which drew tens of thousands – have died down this week, although sporadic demonstrations are still happening.
Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the Archbishop of Dhaka, told Crux he is “deeply saddened by the violence.”
“There has been injustice, road traffic, transport, not sufficient supervision from the government, corruption,” the cardinal said. “It’s no fault of the government or drivers but of the system.”
D’Rozario said dialogue is the only way to resolve the issue.
“Demands cannot be met overnight, but some demands are urgent,” he said. “This issue should not be politicized, and party politics color the issues. The situation should be objectively assessed, and urgent steps should be taken.”
The cardinal is hopeful the situation will be resolved.
“Negative things happen, but positive thing should come out of it,” he said.
Bangladesh’s Cabinet on Monday endorsed a draft law that would increase the maximum punishment for an accident leading to death to five years in jail, up from the current three years. If someone is killed deliberately, a defendant could receive capital punishment, the law says.
The student protesters have demanded tougher punishment for offenses involving road accidents. Hasina said the students’ demands were logical and she would work to meet them in phases.
This article incorporated material from the Associated Press.