In a remote village of Joypurhat, Atiqul Islam drives a rickshaw van to make ends meet. A father of three, it was always difficult for him and his wife Nazma Begum to get by on the meagre income. But the family was close to a dream come true.
Their eldest son, a student of the Bangladesh University and Engineering and Technology (Buet), would soon take on the family responsibility.
“We practically starved for days on end just to make sure that our son gets a good education,” said the middle-aged rickshaw-puller.
He had thought his days of hardship would be over soon. “My son would graduate in two years and get a job and then look after the family,” he said.
“I could never spend a penny for private tuition, and yet my son managed to ace all his exams and get into Buet. He really made me proud. I could stand with my head held high anywhere.”
Atiqul’s dream has fallen apart. His son Akash Hossain is among those arrested for murdering Abrar Fahad, a second-year student of Buet.
The poor man said it feels like the sky has crashed down upon him. “I had thought my son would take the burden off my tired, old shoulders. But now it seems I have to take even more burden for him.”
With anguish, he said that if the charges are proven, his son must be punished. “And I will tell myself that somewhere I must have gone wrong in his upbringing.”
His wife Nazma Begum said, “That other kid who was killed, was my son too. The only thing I ask is that such a brutal incident does not happen again.”
Nazma said she had talked to Akash on Sunday evening. But in the early morning of Tuesday, Akash’s grandfather called her and told that violence broke out at Buet.
Nazma phoned her son and queried about his involvement. “My son said he was not involved with the incident and that he is innocent.”
Akash’s grandfather came to Atiqul’s house by the time, and then they come to Gazipur where Akash’s maternal uncle lives.
Akash came to Gazipur and he was arrested there, said Atiqul. “We are very poor and never engaged in politics. We do not understand politics, and my son was also not involved with politics.”
Md Jahuru Islam, chairman of Dogachhi Union Parishad, said Atiqul’s family is very poor, and they have no bad reputation in the area.
“Akash is a very good and polite boy. Even I helped him during his admission to Buet. We are shocked and surprised at his arrest. The whole area is saddened,” said Jahurul, also general secretary of Joypurhat Sadar Upazila Awami League.
He said their only demand is that the perpetrators must be punished but no innocent people should be victimised.
Born in 1998, Akash passed SSC examination from Dogachhi High School in 2014 with golden GPA-5 and HSC from Joypurhat Government College in 2016 with the top grade.