VIP syndrome at Mawa ghat
Report & Photos Morshed Ali Khan ›
The scene is at Mawa Ghat, one of two ferry points in the country for millions of people trying to cross the 14-kilometer wide mighty river Padma to celebrate Eid back home. For everyone it is a weeklong government holiday.
It is September 9, 2016, four days prior to Eid ul Azha. The festival triggers an avalanche of people trying to reach their roots in rural Bangladesh. An estimated 50 million people try to reach their ancestral homes from different parts of the country during the two festivals every year.
But to the horror of thousands of waiting passengers in buses and cars, stranded for up to 15 or more hours in queues, envoi after envoi of private cars and tinted SUVs roll onto the waiting ferries without a delay. Visibly frustrated on-duty policemen and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) officials oblige helplessly fearing reprisal from these defying gangs. These gate breakers are our new breeds of VIPs.
Like anyone else these so-called VIPs are all going on holidays. None is on any official assignment to demand any such privilege from the state. Interestingly, our investigation reveals most of these new VIPs include distant relatives of ministers, Members of Parliament, petty ruling party goons, UP chairmen, UP members, government officials, influential businessmen, army and police officers and a host of other opportunists, not caring a bit about the law abiding mass stranded on eternal queues.
Tired of waiting for hours and watching these VIPs roll past without a hindrance, a group of young men started protesting at the entrance of Mawa ghat. They first charged at the law enforcers accusing them of instigating anger among law-abiding citizens. A scuffle broke out instantly and the frustrated policemen vented their anger by beating up several of the protesters. But the situation never improved.
BIWTC officials at Mawa ghat told this correspondent that despite having ferry constraints their functional ferries were also faced with navigability problems arising from siltation at different points of the river.
An official of the BIWTC at Mawa ghat said they had deployed all the 17 ferries available on the occasion of Eid. He said up to 4500 private cars and buses cross the river every 24 hours during the rush period in addition to hundreds of thousands of people who take launches, small trawlers and speed boats to cross the river.
“We are tired of these so-called VIPs who force their way into ferries for which they have no right whatsoever. For thousands of men, women and children who suffer for up to 24 hours to board a ferry there is only suffering,” he said requesting anonymity.
“They (VIPs) are simply abusing their power to force us to operate in such an inhuman manner,” he added.
“But unfortunately the number of these so- called VIPs is phenomenally increasing every year.” “There should be a law about who should be considered a VIP,” the disgruntled official said.
According to Wikipedia, a VIP is a person who is accorded special privileges due to his/her status or importance.
Examples include celebrities, heads of state or heads of government, high-level corporate officers or any other notable person who receives special treatment for any reason.
But what happens in Mawa and Paturia during the two Eids is known as VIP syndrome. VIP syndrome is when a perceived VIP uses his/her status to influence a given professional to make unorthodox decisions under the pressure or presence of the individual.
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