More than anything, police behaviour shocked everybody30 December 2014 Editorial Desk
Highly irresponsible utterances, extreme ineptness and an ill-equipped rescue drive could yield how much suffering was proven by the death of poor Jihad. He was sacrificed due to the whims of some irresponsible government administrators. Jihad had at last been rescued, though not alive and also not by any government organogram, but by some ordinary volunteers who urged several times to the government rescue teams to give them a chance to rescue the ill-fated minor boy. Jihad, a four-year-old boy was trapped in a 17 inch diameter shaft WASA pipe adjacent to a playground at the Shahjahanpur Railway Colony in the city at around 3 pm on Saturday. Three units of Fire-fighters rushed to the spot within half an hour and started an operation to rescue the child who fell into the abandoned narrow well that is anywhere between 480 to 600 feet deep.
Fire Service personnel employed various techniques, one after another, to pull Jihad out, but failed. The Fire fighters called off their search after 23 hours of unsuccessful rescue operations amid high drama. Before that, State Minister for Home Affairs claimed there was no sign of human beings in the well. The Joint Director of National Security Intelligence said Jihad's falling into the shaft was a "rumour". Surprisingly, fifteen minutes before Jihad was pulled out, the Fire Service Boss said he would suspend the rescue operation as the child's location couldn't be identified there. However, some indomitable volunteers did not lose their hope and tried with their own efforts to rescue little Jihad and finally succeeded using a "catcher", a cage made of iron rods and a CCTV. Their approach of using locally adopted technology worked well and looked innovative.
So, a very simple question is coming ahead — could Jihad have been rescued alive had the authorities been a little more serious about pulling him up? Who can be blamed or be held liable for such an unfortunate death? More surprisingly, the manner in which the police behaved with Jihad's father is no doubt unbelievably cruel, brutal, and inhuman. Police picked up the boy's father from the spot and took him in for questioning at around three in the morning on Saturday. When everyone was frantically trying to get Jihad out of the well, police detained him for 12 agonising hours at Shahjahanpur Police Station. They allegedly threatened the worried sick father with dire consequences and asked questions like where he had tucked away his son. The police behaved so irrationally, perhaps, to cover-up the government's failure or to support the Home Minister's mindless utterances. However, the government has at last formed a probe body to inquire into the negligence, which led to poor Jihad's death.
No compensation is enough to justify the loss of a life, but we must avoid such loss in the future through taking proper steps from past experiences, though they are usually not learnt in Bangladesh. The Railway authority and its contractors, WASA, the police, Fire Brigade — whoever is found irresponsible must be penalized. Above all, the bereaved family of Jihad must be compensated for the losses they incurred by the actions taken by the government authorities.
There is nothing new that the government is incapable to itself run efficiently. Out of fear of public reaction, they deprived the people of the right to choose their government. It is also known that the government is depending on police power to stay in power. Whether they like it or not, the government will change, the only question is how and when. But police, as a permanent law-enforcing force, is to stay. The arrest of the heart-broken father of Jihad by police and subsequent interrogation suspecting he was telling lies of his son's predicament just because the government refused to accept that Jihad fell into the pipe. A slavish law-enforcing agency will have thus no respect of the people. That will be the real loss of hope for building a law-abiding society.