A group of children sat in front of a TV, watching cartoons in a Shahjahanpur house. Only a year ago, they used to be joined by another enthusiastic three-and-a-half year-old kid who also enjoyed such afternoon television binge.
But that kid died on December 27, 2014, after falling inside an abandoned 300-feet-deep narrow well, which did not have any cover on it.
At the time of Jihad’s death, there was a public outcry demanding that authorities fix all manholes with missing covers. But little has been done so far to address the issue.
Right after the child’s death, many government officials showed sympathy and made promises to Jihad’s family, but no one had cared to visit them since then, said Jihad’s mother Khadiza Begum.
Local Awami League leaders Ashraf Talukder and Kamal Chowdhury had also promised the family that a memorial would be built in the colony in memory of Jihad; but that is yet to be done.
Even if the politicians and authorities concerned might have forgotten about Jihad, he is still missed ever day by his friends.
“My mom prohibited me from going out of the house on the day Jihad died. When Jihad approached me [that day], I also asked him not to go, but he did not listen to me and died,” said five-year-old Nahid, who was one of Jihad’s friends.
With tears in her eyes, Khadiza, Jihad’s mother, said: “A writ was filed seeking compensation on the matter. People asked me whether we were compensated, but we do not want money. Money cannot return our son.”
When another child named Nirob died in a similar manner earlier this month, Khadiza said she was unable to have any food for days thinking about that child’s fate.
Jihad’s father Nasir Hossain said Awami League leader Saber Hossain Chowdhury had advised him to seek a job from Bangladesh Railway, who owned the land where the abandoned well that claimed Jihad’s life was located.
“I have filed a case against [railway official] Jahangir, who is now in charge of [Bangladesh Railway’s] Chittagong division. Seeing my application, Jahangir scrapped it from the list so the rest of the applicants were called for interview, but I was not,” said Nasir.
He also alleged that the previous investigation officer had taken bribes to exclude names of four of the accused, with the exceptions of engineer Salam and Jahangir, from the charge sheet.
“When we raised objection about the charge sheet, the court handed over the case to Detective Branch. It has already been five months [since then], but we have not seen any update,” the father added.
DB Sub-Inspector Mizanur Rahman, who is now investigating the case, said probe was at its final stages and a fresh charge sheet can be expected in the second week of January.
Currently, the High Court is also hearing on a writ petition seeking explanation on why Jihad’s family should not be compensated.
Mohammad Abdul Halim, who filed the petition on behalf of Children’s Charity Bangladesh Foundation, told the Dhaka Tribune that they were seeking Tk3 million as compensation for Jihad’s family.