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     Volume 4 Issue 26 | December 24, 2004 |

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The fowl…the police… and the journalist

Morshed Ali Khan and Ambreen Morshed

There lived a fowl in a farmer's house in a small village called Kathalia under Kowkhali Upazila in Pirojpur 250 kilometres from Dhaka. Alamin the twelve year old son of peasant Moshin looked after the bird that weighed nearly two kilograms and demanded a lot of affection. The unusually large spotty bird followed Alamin everywhere. The family grew fond of the friendly bird that moved slowly and displayed prominence amid other hens and fowls that the family reared and earned from eggs and livestock. After school Alamin would return home to find the spotty bird rushing towards him. He would run his hand into the earthen paddy reservoir of the family and offer the bird a handful of grain.

But disaster struck one day. As Alamin was playing with some friends, two boys appeared on the scene. They were the sons of two powerful men of the area and they bullied every child of their age. Without any reason whatsoever the boys asked Alamin and his friends to leave the playground immediately. When Alamin refused, the boys knocked him down to the ground. Alamin's playmates fled as fast as they could. While one of the bullies pinned Alamin to the ground, the other charged him with a full-size brick uprooted from the nearby road. The two held Alamin's right hand fully stretched against the ground and repeatedly struck it with the brick. When the two proudly walked off the scene Alamin lay there unconscious with multiple fractures in his hand.

When poor Moshin rushed Alamin to the Upazila hospital three kilometres away, doctors found seven serious fractures all around his hand. They wondered if ever again the first boy of class seven would be able to use his right hand. For the poor peasant family the nightmare had only begun. Moshin was already struggling to feed the family of four, how could he bear the expenses for the treatment? He went to Kowkhali police for justice. The police refused to file any case and asked Moshin to go away. Poor Moshin begged for money everywhere but no one came forward. He immediately needed to take Alamin to a specialised hospital in Bagerhat, about 40 kilometeres away.

In the same village at the time a Dhaka based journalist was passing holidays at his ancestral house. The journalist sent one of his men, Abdul Baten to the weekly haat in Kowkhali to buy several fowls, which he would take to Dhaka. Baten returned from the haat with four huge fowls.

A day later, a sad Moshin sat at the village tea stall where the journalist was also having tea. Just then Abdul Baten came walking towards the stall.

"This man," said Moshin to the stall owner pointing his finger at Abdul Baten, " did me a great favor by buying my son's fowl for as much as I demanded."

"Oh yeah, I paid you even twenty taka more when you told me your story," replied Baten.

"What is the story?" asked the curious journalist overhearing the conversation.

In tears Moshin narrated the story adding that Alamin was then at the hospital virtually without any treatment.

"Have you been to the police station?" asked the journalist.

"The people who did this to my son are very powerful, police would not accept any complaint against them," replied Moshin.

Arrangements were soon made to send Alamin to Bagerhat. The journalist also assured Alamin that his fowl would be returned to him when he got better.

The next day the journalist telephoned the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Pirojpur.

The SP gave a patient hearing but got furious when he heard that his men in Kowkhali refused to accept the case.

"Please hold on while I talk to the officer right now on wireless," said the angry SP.

The following is the overheard conversation between the SP and the Sub inspector.

"Hello this is the SP speaking…..pass me on to Sub-inspector Jashim" (not his real name)

"Sir, yes sir, this is sir SI Jashim Speaking sir, over," cracking sound came through the wireless.

"Did a man named Moshin come to you yesterday begging for justice?"

"Sir, sir yes he did sir," replied the frightened SI.

"Why did you kick him out, you…. son of…….. now listen, you accept the case, arrest those criminals and contact me ….."

A week later, in the presence of the police, a village salish decided that the offenders would bear all expenses for Alamin's treatment and apologise and only then the case against them would be withdrawn.

Four months later Alamin resumed his studies at the local school and kept working harder to catch up with his studies. He returned the money of the sale and formally gave the fowl to the journalist as a gift. "I have a small request," said the little boy to the journalist, "can you send me a photo of my bird?"

The fowl now lives in Dhaka happily surrounded by beautiful hens.


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