Mothers, sisters, wives, children and relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance attended the demonstration.
Minu Akhter informed Prothom Alo, on the day Kawsar fell victim to enforced disappearance, seven more people went missing from the capital’s Nakhalpara and Bashundhara areas. She was at their village home in Barishal then.
She added that she returned to Dhaka upon hearing of her husband’s news and thus began her hassle of running back and forwards between RAB and police. She doesn’t go to them anymore now.
Minu Akhter further added, “Earlier, when my daughter used to look for her father I consoled her by saying that he has gone abroad. Now she understands everything. Sometimes, she says, ‘Maa, I will become a police officer and find my father myself’.”
The son of Reshma Akhter and Md Chanchal also says something similar. Chhatra Dal leader Md Chanchal disappeared from Shahbag area on 2 December, 2013.
Their only son was three years old then. His childhood was utterly different from other children.
Reshma who came to participate in the demonstration on Saturday told Prothom Alo, other boys go to pray in the mosque on Fridays holding their fathers’ hands while her son is left alone.
She just about survives in a city like Dhaka with her son through the help she gets from her relatives.
Reshma added, once her son used to question why nobody is finding the whereabouts of his father Chanchal. Now he’s just waiting to grow up.
Just like Chanchal’s son, Chhatra Dal leader Tariqul Islam’s son is also waiting to become an adult. Tariqul went missing from Dhaka’s Pallabi area.
Speaking to Prothom Alo during the demonstration, Tariqul’s wife Baby Akhter said, a decade ago when her husband became a victim of enforced disappearance, her son was only an infant of 22 months. Even then he used to cry for his father.
Now he has come to realise the reality. He wants to become a ‘government official’ when he grows up. He believes, he can find his father only by becoming a government officer, she added.
Quite a few children are participating in programmes organised by ‘Mayer Daak’ for the last ten years, in search of their fathers, victims of enforced disappearance.
Once, they used to arrive at those discussions-demonstrations and human chains, in their mothers’ arms. Now they come to the streets holding their fathers’ pictures close to their hearts. Those who were adolescents then have turned into youths now.
Son of Shazzad Hossain, the then general secretary of Kushtia Awami Swecchashebak League, Sheikh Shahed Hossain, is a university-student now. He said the government must give answers.
He added that he won’t be leaving the streets till the day he finds the whereabouts of his father. His grandfather is a freedom fighter. His whole family was involved in Awami League politics. Even so he’s unable to find any trace of his father.
Omar Faruque, Lakshmipur’s Hajipara union parishad chairman and organising secretary of the upazila BNP unit, disappeared from Kathgarh area in Chattogram city on 4 February of the year 2014.
His son Emon Omar came to Dhaka to take part in Saturday’s demonstration. He told Prothom Alo he wants answers about why his father is missing. And he will rest only after he has found out the answers.
Timber trader Ismail Hossain is yet another victim of enforced disappearance who went missing from Dhaka’s Mirpur area in 2019. His daughter has become a teenager now.
During Saturday’s demonstration she asked, allegedly there is no enforced disappearance in the country, then why is my father is not being returned?
Comrades of Kalpana Chakma and Michael Chakma along with relatives of forcibly disappeared leaders of Chhatra League, Swecchashebak League, BNP and their associate bodies took part in the demonstration.
BNP leader and the then commissioner of Dhaka City Corporation Chowdhury Alam, disappeared on 25 June of 2010. His wife Hasina Chowdhury and daughter Mahfuza Akhter also attended the demonstration.
Mahfuza said, “All these children crying for their fathers. Do their tears have no significance?”
Among others, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, president of Nagorik Oikya, Saiful Haque, general secretary of Biplobi Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, Zonayed Saki, convener of Gonosanghati Andolan and Saquib Ali, former diplomat expressed their solidarity, being present at the demonstration.