The protesters were moving from the Jatiya Press Club towards the Matsyabhaban around 11 am on Thursday when they were blocked by police.
Witnesses say that the protesters attempted to occupy the busy Matsyabhaban intersection and police attempted to force them to go away. At one point the protesters dispersed.
Internal conflicts among the protesters led to unrest, Harun-or-Rashid, additional deputy commissioner of the Ramna Division, told bdnews24.com. Police then stepped in to disperse the crowd.
At least 12 e-commerce companies in Bangladesh have been accused of defrauding customers of billions with promises of massive discounts. No government initiative has been forthcoming to uncover the truth despite many customers coming forward with stories of undelivered products or denial of refunds.
On Jul 4, the Ministry of Commerce issued instructions on online transactions in an attempt to curb fraudulent schemes. Once money laundering loopholes were closed, the e-commerce companies began to distance themselves from their customers. Two months later, many of these so-called e-commerce entrepreneurs have fled the country.
Aminur Rahman, who took part in Thursday’s protest, said he had come with 20-25 others from Jhalakathi to join the demonstration. After protesting on several thoroughfares, they had planned to march to the Ministry of Commerce, but the demonstration was broken up by the police baton charge.
Aminur had paid Eorange Tk 400,000 to purchase products with a market value of nearly double that amount. But he never got the products and members of the company’s ownership sold off its assets and fled abroad.
Some Eorange owners have been arrested and the company is currently closed.
Former cricketer and MP Mashrafe Bin Mortaza had been part of Eorange’s promotions and advertisements, which helped the company, one of the late entrants to the e-commerce field, get the most orders from customers.
Many of the customers affected by the scam say the presence of the beloved cricketer had assured them there was no risk of fraud.
Disgruntled customers had gone to Mashrafe’s house to confront him, and the MP had assured them that legal action would be taken against those who committed fraud.
“I was only with Eorange for six months,” he said. “I haven’t been associated with them since July. But I will pursue legal action on behalf of aggrieved customers from a sense of responsibility.”
A Panthapath resident named Mou Akter said she had paid Tk 700,000 to Eorange for the purchase of household appliances such as a refrigerator and television after starting a family.
“I didn’t get any of my purchases and now the company is out of reach,” she said. “The government must take responsibility for this fraud. We want our money back. How has this deception in the name of e-commerce gone on so long?”
Shahidul Islam, from Jatrabari, said he rushed to the protest after joining an online group for customers cheated by Eorange.
Protesters also came from other parts of the country.