Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  
Front Page

Ordeals of deprived war hero

Arafat Ali Khan, a freedom fighter, has been suffering untold miseries with an amputated leg for more than a month at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

Arafat, 76, of Daulatpur village of Netrokona, was left at the DMCH by some unknown persons following an accident after he had arrived in the capital. Only a week ago the hospital authorities came to know that he is a freedom fighter and admitted him in the orthopaedic ward.

Once a valiant soldier of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Arafat was shown absconding following the political unrest in 1975. This deprived him of all kinds of privileges of a government job.

He, however, received the freedom fighter's allowance. He also started farming to maintain his family.

Unfortunately, the family life did not last long as Arafat's wife died about 12 years ago. His two children--a son and a daughter--had died earlier when he lived in Chittagong.

Life's misery and old age had left Arafat too weak for physical labour and he started begging in different districts. He has been a beggar for the last four years.

"Why did I take part in the Liberation War? Was it to live by begging now?" asks Arafat with a blank look, his pride of being a "muktijoddha" (freedom fighter) shattered over the last three decades of extreme poverty and unbearable hunger.

Following someone's suggestion, on June 22 he boarded a Dhaka-bound train from Sylhet with the hope to meet the prime minister (PM).

But fate had different plans--an accident befell him somewhere in the capital he cannot remember, and found himself lying on a bed at the DMCH.

"He has high level of diabetes, and his left leg had to be amputated from the thigh due to the accident," said Arafat's physician Dr M Amjad Hossain. "He has bed-sore also on his back," he added.

Initially, he was shifted from ward to ward receiving little care until on July 7 he was finally admitted in the orthopaedic ward. He was not even given the minimum medication the doctor had prescribed due to the lack of medicine supplies at the DMCH.

When he arrived in Dhaka, Arafat had Tk 1500 with him. When he woke up in the hospital, however, he found it lost.

Arafat's identity as a freedom fighter yielded some benefit.

Dr Amjad Hossain, head of orthopaedic and trauma surgery at the DMCH and health advisor to Bangladesh Freedom Fighters' Welfare Trust, has been trying to help this ill-fated war hero.

Dr Hossain told The Daily Star that Arafat's condition is steadily deteriorating, and good treatment and care is needed for his recovery.

Elderly freedom fighter Arafat Ali Khan lies at DMCH with an amputated leg since June 22. After four years of begging, Arafat that day was going to meet the PM to seek help, but instead was severely injured in a road crash. PHOTO: STAR