The schoolbag, bought just months before the tragedy, still looks new. Roksana Khatun kept it safely on the reading table. Her daughter Diya Khanom Mim used to love that bag very much. Her textbooks were lined neatly right next to it.
A few feet away, stood a shelf, on which lies Diya’s college ID card, wristwatch, some of her childhood dolls and a framed photograph of Diya.
“We just look at the things she left behind, as these are all we have left with her memories. What else can we do?” Diya’s father Jahangir Fakir’s voice cracked as he spoke.
“My daughter will never return, but we want roads to be safe so that no parent has to ever endure the pain of losing a child,” he told The Daily Star, ahead of his Diya’s first death anniversary today.
Diya was one of the two college students killed in the July 29 road crash last year, which sparked unprecedented student demonstrations for road safety.
Tens of thousands of students took to the streets across the country protesting for road safety, forcing the government to take several steps to curb road accidents and bring discipline in the transport sector. Meanwhile, the crash changed the family’s life forever. Diya’s father Jahangir left his profession as bus driver and now manages his family and education expenditure of his two other children from whatever he earns by running a tiny shop and the money he gets from the interest of a Tk 20 lakh fixed deposit that he received from the prime minister.
“Rain or shine, my wife visits her grave every day. We can’t stop her from going there, no matter what,” Jahangir said.
He thought the pressure of the administration had brought some discipline in the streets after the agitation. But the situation has gotten back to square one now, he said.
Asked about his observations on present condition of the transport sector, he said the students were able to raise awareness and mount pressure on the administration, which led them to bring some discipline on the streets and reduce the number of accidents.
“But it seems the administration is little reluctant now, so the situation is going back to the way it was,” he said, adding, “But it would have been better if they could have learned some discipline from the students.”
He said his daughter was not a “victim of road accident”, rather she was murdered by a bus driver who was involved in an unhealthy race with another bus.
“I want justice,” he said.
In October last year, six owners, drivers and helpers of the two buses of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan were indicted in the case, and a Dhaka court has already recorded testimonies of 36 prosecution witnesses.
“I want the trial to be completed soon so that those responsible are punished. I urge everyone to be more cautious about traffic rules,” he said.
Mehraj Uddin, cousin of the other victim Rajib, said Rajib used to live with his family in Dhaka while his mother lived in Hatia.
“He was very close to my sons, they remember him fondly,” he said.
Mehraj believes citizens need to be more cautious about traffic rules. “Some changes have been made. But I think we need to be more careful,” he added.
After the death of Rajib, Hatia’s local administration promised to give two acres of land to Rajib’s mother, but she was yet to receive it, said Mehraj.
He urged the authorities to take necessary steps in this regard soon.