26/01/2015 16:54 26/01/2015 16:21
AN APOLOGY TO BABY ZIHAD
MOHAMMED SHAHJAHAN, ADVOCATE
Zihad alias Ziad’s name will certainly go down in the history of unforgettably traumatic incidents occurring daily throughout the length and breadth of our beloved motherland. This is simply because this most unfortunate incident sharply marked the unsurpassed degree of utter inefficiency and incompetence of the state agencies tasked with the responsibility of conducting emergency rescue operations in times of need and danger.
The 4-year old minor boy fell down into the open pipeline of a pump at Shahjahanpur in Dhaka. While the child’s family members were frantically seeking help, the neighbours assembled at the place of occurrence and made attempts to rescue the victim. In the meantime, the Fire Brigade arrived on the scene and tried all night long to rescue the baby, but in vain. There were, of course, signs of the baby being alive as admitted by the members of the rescue team. That’s why, they attempted to reach juice and soft foods to the baby by lowering the same down the pipeline. They are reported to have used modern devices to make the rescue operation successful. Meanwhile, thousands of people all over the country held their breaths with their eyes glued to the media for updates of the incident. Some of them even continued invoking Allah for saving the baby. This state of affairs went on for nearly 23 hours with no success or progress achieved with regard to the rescue operation. And then high officials of the state agencies involved with it declared, to the surprise and dismay of all, the rescue operation over. What’s more, state officials also claimed that it was all a lie and rumour and nothing else. But remarkably, no sooner had they left the spot bag and baggage than some commoners with no skill and experience pertaining to rescue operations made history by picking up the baby applying an indigenous device resembling a catcher made by themselves. But alas! All was, by then, over. As the baby was taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in haste, the doctor on duty declared him dead.
We the common people of the country are constrained to raise a few questions relating to all that happened. Firstly, are those assigned to conduct rescue operations such as this one really capable of the job? If they are, why did they fail that miserably this time? If they are not, will they be made to answer for this? Secondly, were the devices used for the rescue operation workable or fit for use? Thirdly, whereas the baby was still deep inside the pipeline, how was it that high state officials termed the incident a rumour and just washed their hands off the responsibility by closing down the rescue operation? Was it part of the sheer negligence on the part of the state machineries in carrying out their duties and responsibilities to the citizenry at large? Will those who succeeded commendably in picking the baby up at long last be recognized and rewarded by the state and the society in a befitting manner? On top of it all, why did the police held the baby’s poor and helpless father captive in their custody at a time when his family members deserved all the sympathy in the world?
Given the culture of impunity the history of our country is characterized by, we can’t but be almost sure of the fact that many of the questions posed above would remain unanswered for good. There is, of course, a little ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. One Barrister Abdul Halim has reportedly filed a Writ Petition before the Honourable High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on the issue. The judiciary, the last resort of refuge for the like of us, along with the authorities at the helm of state affairs would, as we feel tempted to believe, contribute significantly to the desired changes for the better at least in the days to come, .
As we mourn over the tragic death of baby Zahid, we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that we as a nation have seriously fallen short of our duty plus capability to save little Zihad. Hence, we owe an apology to Zihad and his family. But I wonder whether they would ever be in a position to forgive and forget us. Don’t you?
MOHAMMED SHAHJAHAN: An Advocate practising at the Judge’s Court of Cox’sBazar.
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