Published: Sunday, December 15, 2013

Violent politics leaves them in pain, despair

Eleven-year-old Shanto Islam, who was severely wounded by rubber bullets on Friday, has not spoken a word since he regained consciousness.
“He opened his eyes around 8:00 in the morning [yesterday]. Since then he is just staring into space,” said his grandmother Roksana Begum.
The boy has been in shock, said Pijush Kanti Mitra, examining his health at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
He was peppered with rubber bullets when police fired on a group demonstrating against the execution of war crimes convict Abdul Quader Mollah and carrying out violence in the capital’s Fakirapool.
Shanto has 73 rubber pellets embedded in the upper portion of his body, his family members said, quoting doctors.
The pellets mainly lodged in the muscle. They are very small with diameter of less than half a millimeter and so it is impossible to extract them through surgery, Pijush said. Shanto has to carry them his whole life and that will be painful sometimes, he added.
Seeing his son lying motionless on a hospital bed, Sobhan Bepari lost his consciousness and had to be taken away home, Roksana said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association circulated a press statement demanding that the people responsible for Shanto’s injuries be brought to justice.
Deputy Commissioner of police, Motijheel zone Ashrafuzzaman told The Daily Star that it would not be possible to find out whose gun the rubber bullets belonged to.
“Besides, the riot erupted at a very crowded place where there were a lot of civilians. The protesters were throwing cocktails and setting fire to vehicles. We had to stop them anyhow and so we had to use rubber bullets,” he added.
Khorshed Alam, a CNG driver who sustained 35 percent burns in an arson attack on his vehicle in Chandgaon on December 5, should immediately be shifted to Dhaka from Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), for better treatment, said doctors.
But his family is too poor to do so. “I do not know what to do,” said his wife Shamsunnahar, with tears.
Similarly another arson victim, Mohammad Abdul Alam, has to be brought to Dhaka without any delay, said head of the CMCH burn unit Mrinal Kanti Das.
“He [Abdul] needs to be taken to an intensive care unit. We do not have one here,” the doctor said.
Alam, who suffered 22 percent burn injuries when pro-blockade activists set fire to his auto-rickshaw in front of VIP Tower in the port city on November 27, said he could not sleep for the last 18 days.
Lying close by, Mohammad Yasin, a truck driver and the sole bread earner of a seven-member family, described how he had fell victim to an arson on December 2.
Some eight to 10 teenagers stopped his truck in Sitakunda upazila that day and demanded money. His was one of 200 trucks going to Chittagong from Dhaka under police escort, he said.
“I gave Tk 38,000 to the youths and requested them not to set fire to my truck. But they did not listen to me and hurled a petrol bomb at the driver’s seat.
“Before setting the fire, the miscreants beat me up and asked me why I had come out with the vehicle,” said Yasin who had burn injuries in the face, chest and both hands.