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Sylhet mayor whips van driver with stick

Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) mayor Ariful Huque Chowdhury has whipped a driver for keeping his van on the road.

The incident happened at Zindabazar area in the Sylhet city early Saturday afternoon. Criticism has rifed following the spread of a photo — showing the mayor whipping the van driver on his palm –had spread on Facebook.

The picture shows that the mayor is beating the driver sitting inside his car with his windows rolled down. He has a stick in his hand and he is about to hit a van driver on the roadside.

Witnesses say that the mayor struck the van driver twice on his hands. But mayor Ariful Huque Chowdhury has denied the allegations, saying that he didn’t hit the driver, only scolded him for blocking the road to load goods on his van.

Ariful Huque Chowdhury is a member of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The incident took place at about 1:30pm right beside the Al Hamra Shopping City in Zindabazar.

According to witnesses, the mayor’s car was passing the mall when he saw the van driver loading goods in his van. The mayor then called the van driver and struck him.

When contacted at 4:30pm on Saturday, mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said a few days ago city corporation held a meeting with transport workers to ensure there is no traffic jams in the city during Eid. It was decided that vans would have to complete delivery of their products by 10am. But while passing through the road on Saturday, he saw that a driver was loading and unloading goods, causing the traffic congestion.

He said that the accusation of hitting the driver with a stick isn’t true. He said, “I didn’t hit that driver with a stick. I just scolded him. I told him to not park his van and cause traffic jam in the future. But for no reason, some people have wrongly interpreted the incident and spread a photo on social media to defame me.”

The van belonged to a cigarette company. A sales representative of the company Dhrubo Bhattacharya said, “Our driver was wrong. We were supplying our products at the wrong time and also in the wrong manner. That’s why the honourable mayor mildly hit the driver and scolded him. As it was our fault, we have no complaints.”

The Facebook users criticise the mayor for his action, saying that a public representative has no right to strike or beat a citizen with a stick.