A year has passed since the Gulshan terror attack which claimed the lives of 24 people and though the public at large has moved on since, the lives of the victims’ family members remain stuck on July 1, 2016.
Nineteen-year-old Abinta Kabir was one of those whose untimely death dealt a massive blow, not just to those who knew her, but to every Dhaka resident.
Abinta’s parents, Elegant Group Chairman Ruba Ahmed and Ehsanul Kabir, took six months to relearn how to communicate with each other, but have failed to recover from the pain of losing their only child. Her other family members are equally unable to forget their last moments spent with her.
In a book published by the Abinta Kabir Foundation, entitled “An Intimate Portrait of Abinta Kabir”, Ruba writes: “Remembering my baby is easy; I do it every moment. But missing you is a heartache, that never goes away.”
As Muslim devotees of the country were preparing for Tarabi on July 1 last year, three childhood friends — Abinta, Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, 20, and Tarishi Jain, 19, – met with a tragic end at the hands of some militants who claimed to have carried out the attack in the name of Islam.
Recalling the day of the attack, Abinta’s aunt told the Dhaka Tribune that before leaving for the Holey Artisan Bakery, Abinta had gone to her grandparents’ house to meet her grandmother and aunty and had stayed for iftar.
She said: “Abinta had promised her mother she would be back by 10pm. Her mother kept waiting, but she never returned.”
Abinta was born in Dhaka and grew up in Miami. She moved back to Bangladesh at the age of 10.
“Abinta loved this city and the love she had for Dhaka cannot be put into words,” said Abinta’s aunt, adding: “She might have been an American passport holder but she was a true Bangladeshi at heart.”
“Abinta was very soft hearted and the pain of the people used to bother her. The NGO, Abinta Kabir Foundation, was her dream and she was its main founder. We are just doing what she wanted to do. There is nothing else to look forward to other than making her dreams come true. Her dreams are keeping us alive. The only difference is, we cannot hug her anymore.”
Describing how the foundation came into being, she said: “Abinta’s teacher told us she had written about Bangladesh and her hopes and dreams for the country in some of her assignments. We collected those and are now doing whatever it takes to make them come true.”
On November 18, 2015 Abinta wrote in her freshman seminar class paper at Emory University: “I believe that I do have a responsibility to the greater community as a whole because I am a part of a community where more than half the people are suffering from poverty and hunger. Coming from Bangladesh, which is a developing nation, I believe that it is my responsibility as a Bangladeshi to help those in need. Furthermore, I think that if I want my country to become developed and prosperous then I definitely need to take action.”
Stating that Abinta’s love for Dhaka was reflected in her activities and academic writing, her relatives have criticised the government’s move to not build a memorial for the victims of the worst terror attack in the history of Bangladesh.
The Abinta Kabir Foundation works to provide underprivileged girls with schooling and board and promotes education and sports in general through various scholarships. It also aims to build old age homes and help construct houses for people who are not able to afford them.
The foundation has already established five primary schools in Natore earlier in February this year. Each school has 30 children. It is also currently supporting another school in Bashabho which was on the verge of shutting down after 20 years of operations. The foundation has taken over the responsibility of running the school, which has 130 students, is handling its renovations and paying out its day-to-day expenses.