Battery-run rickshaw puller Md Shamim Sikder, 35, from Norsingpur area of Ashulia, has set himself on fire after traffic police seized the battery from his rickshaw on Friday afternoon.
Locals first rushed him to a local hospital, and later he was admitted to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital in critical condition.
Shamim, who hails from Bhaijora village of Morolganj thana in Bagerhat, lives with his wife and children in Ashulia.
He bought the battery-run rickshaw in instalments by selling off the last of his possessions. The rickshaw was the only means through which he could feed his family.
According to locals and the police, because of the intense pressure of passengers returning to Dhaka after Eid, Shamim left his home on Friday with his rickshaw and got on the Abdullahpur-Bipel highway.
When he reached the Bipel bus-stand, the on-duty highway Sergeant Aminur Rahman and other traffic police stopped his rickshaw and seized his battery for illegally driving a battery-run rickshaw on the highway.
Watching his only means of survival being taken away from in front of his eyes, Shamim pleaded frantically with the traffic police. However, they only agreed to return the battery for a bribe of Tk2,000.
Barely able to make a livelihood, Shamim told the police again and again that he did not have the Tk2,000 with him, but the police turned a deaf ear. He finally left the scene.
After a few minutes, he came back with a bottle of kerosene and told the police he would burn himself if he could not get his battery back. Yet, even this desperate action brought no sympathy from them.
Finally, as an act of helpless protest, Shamim poured the kerosene on himself and set himself on fire in front of everyone on the Abdullahpur-Bipel highway.
He is now in critical condition at DMCH, as 25% of his body, including his face, received severe burn injuries.
The district police super of Dhaka, Shah Shafiur Rahman Mizan said that an investigation is ongoing into any faults committed by the on-duty traffic police. He also said that Tk5,000 has been given to Shamim for medical reasons.
Earlier this month, a disabled battery-run rickshaw puller died out of heart complications after his battery was confiscated by traffic police. Abdur Razzak, 32, was forced to drive a battery-run rickshaw instead of a regular rickshaw because of his disability. After his battery was seized, he could not bear the worry of the incident and later succumbed to death.
Battery-driven rickshaws have been banned from being driven on highways all over Bangladesh since 2015.
However, outside the capital, there is an abundance of such rickshaws. For many drivers and their families, a battery-run rickshaw is the only means of survival.