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Dhaka Tribune

Family seeks better recognition of Kaykobad’s heroic deeds

Update : 23 Oct 2013, 07:04 PM

For amily members of a national hero who came into light in the aftermath of Rana Plaza collapse, questions and concerns linger six months on.

Mohammad Ejajuddin Ahmed Kaykobad, 35, was burnt in a fire ignited inside the rubble of Rana Plaza on April 28 as he was trying to rescue Shahina Akhter, a garment worker who was also burnt to death. Kaykobad remained in hospital for about a week before he succumbed to his injuries in Singapore. Although he was awarded a Guard of Honour at his funeral, family members worry his story may fade with time.

“We do not want our brother’s deeds to be forgotten,” said Nurun Nahar Yasmin, elder sister of Kaykobad. She along with Kaykobad’s wife Jarmin Akhter is seeking a bigger recognition to commemorate his bravery.

“He is a hero only in people’s speech...We want something more concrete,” Jarmin told the Dhaka Tribune.

“Maybe a road named after him, or a crest. For now we only have the flag from the honour,” said Yasmin.

Kaykobad was at Yasmin’s place when he saw the news on Rana Plaza on TV. He was so overwhelmed by the disaster that he went to Savar the next day and took part in rescue operations for three days before he was caught in fire.

Yasmin, however, still has her doubts regarding the account of her brother’s death.

“It has been six months, but what happened and how it happened remain unclear to me,” said Yasmin in tears. “How was it possible that of all people my brother met with such accident?”

She said: “If there was another person behind my brother holding onto him, then my brother would not have to die such a torturous death.”

Jarmin said the family has received a generous stipend from the government but since Kaykobad was the only earning member of a family of six members, including the domestic help and extended family members, they are currently in need of a lot more.

“As an engineer, my husband earned around Tk50,000-60,000 and now we have only Tk10,000,” she said.

Although many had given her assurance immediately following her husband’s death, no one has followed up since.

The army has relocated Jarmin and her children in an apartment in Dhaka Cantonment and the children’s school has waived their tuition fees. Their seven-year-old daughter Maria is a student of grade I at Shaheed Anwar School. Their son Tihad is only four.

Maria said her fondest memory with her father was that of going different places on his motorbike.

According to Jarmin and Yasmin, Kaykobad used to spend a lot of time with the children and often went out of his way to help others.

Interestingly, just a few days before the accident, in an altercation with his elder brother Kaykobad had said he would fight to save lives of others and die a hero.

Staying true to words he spoke possibly in anger, Kaykobad did die a hero – stepping on boundaries other had not touched. Perhaps it is most fitting what Yasmin said while talking about Kaykobad’s operation.

“He was inside. He was where no one would go,” she said. 

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