They just disappear

[Daily Star] 21.11.10
No trace of 3 youths missing during Rupganj violence a month ago

Masud's mother still has no idea where her son is. Photo: The Daily Star

It has been a month since Shamsher Mollah went missing during the clashes between villagers and law enforcers in Rupganj over purchase of land for an army housing project.

Most of Shamsher's family members now seem certain that he will never return.
Yet, Sumi Akhter, his mother, sits under a mango tree for hours every day, gazing at the country road.

“I know they have taken away my son. I've seen his photo in the newspapers. Tell me why I shouldn't wait for him,”.

Shamsher of Kamtasair was bullet-hit on October 23 when the locals broke into fierce protests against “forced purchase of land” by army officers.

After he was shot near the makeshift army camp at Tanmushury, security forces flew him away in a helicopter along with some other injured villagers, family members alleged.
“We've searched for him everywhere…at all the hospitals and clinics, but didn't find him,” said Mostafa Mollah, father of Shamsher.
“At least we could have offered prayers at his grave, had we known the place,” said a cousin of the missing.

Neither the local lawmaker nor anyone from the government has visited Shamsher's house.
Two more youths--Abdul Aleem Masud and Saidul Islam of Bariasoni village--vanished that day.
Their family members too have gone from hospital to hospital to look for them, but in vain.
This year's Eid offered nothing for these families to celebrate.

Sajeda Begum, mother of Saidul, said, “We don't know how the Eid came and went."

The disappearance of the three has financial implications too, as they were the breadwinners in their families.
"Now, I will have to manage Tk 6,400 a month to pay in instalments for the bank loans we took out for setting up this shop," said Shahor pointing to the tea stall Masud used to run at Ichhapur Bazar.

Sajeda said her son Saidul's fruit shop has been closed since the Rupganj unrest.
To make matters worse, she cannot work much for the wounds she received when the Rab men beat her up for trying to free Saidul from their hold.

At least one person was killed and over 50 including law enforcers were injured in the pitched battles between law enforcers and the locals of Rupganj in Narayanganj.

Villagers said they staged the protests, as some army officers were forcing them to sell the lands they have been living on for generations now.

"I have lost my son, but I don't want anything in return. All I want is peace and that no innocent villager is tortured again," said Abdur Rafiq, father of Mostafa Jamal who died of bullet wounds during the clashes who could not attend his son's namaj-e-janaza because the law enforcers had buried him “hurriedly”.

The Daily Star.


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