Lives at risk for a living


With severe injuries to his left eye, Abdur Rahman lies in a bed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. A 42-year-old mason, he was hurt in a bomb attack by pickets in Bangshal of Old Dhaka during the hartal yesterday. Photo: Palash Khan

These are hartal days, these are testing times for the working class. These are times when the political class plays tough for power and the working class suffers.
And these working class people are in a great dilemma, as the BNP-led 18-party alliance is trying hard to keep everyone home to make its hartal a success by spreading panic through exploding crude bombs and setting vehicles on fire.
They are damned if they stay back home, and they are damned if they come out for work.
Take Abdur Rahman, a mason, for example. Like every other day, the 42-year-old was sitting by a road at Bangshal with his fellow workers yesterday morning, hoping for someone to hire him.
He shuddered when he saw a procession of hartal supporters. Out of the blue, the pickets hurled two crude bombs towards them. One bomb hit his left eye; a bang followed and the world around him turned black.
The other bomb hit a youth, an employee of a shop, causing injury to one of his hands.
Doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital say they cannot tell for sure if Abdur Rahman would ever see again with his left eye.
Talking to The Daily Star, his brother Rafique, also a mason, said: “Staying home was not an option for him [Rahman] because he had no work for the last three-four days.”
Rafique does not know where he would get the money for his brother’s treatment.
Rahman is just one of the thousands of working class people in and around the capital, who have nothing to do with politics but are paying a heavy price for the shutdown.
In panic, many have not come out of home since Saturday evening, the eve of the 60-hour hartal, and those who braved the risk have suffered one way or the other.
While some could not go to work as they did not get any transport, some others came under attack by the pickets on their way to or from work.
Garment worker Nasima Begum is one such victim. The 28-year-old is now fighting for her life at the burn unit of the DMCH. Doctors say 43 percent of her body was burnt.
It so happened at Mohammadpur on Saturday evening when hartal supporters set fire to the bus she and her co-workers were on. They were going home after work.
At least four of her fellow workers were also injured in the incident.
Ayub Ali, a CNG driver, tried his best to escape a similar fate. He was sitting in his vehicle near Amtala mosque in the capital’s Shahjahanpur around 8:30pm on Sunday. Suddenly, he saw three people coming towards him, holding something in their hands.
He had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. So he opened the door and jumped out of it. But the three men had already hurled a crude bomb. The CNG was on fire and the left side of his body was badly burned.
“I can manage to rent a CNG five days a week because the number of drivers is higher than the number of CNGs these days. So I had to go out risking my life,” he said.
The risk Ayub Ali took is the risk facing thousands others.

Source: The Daily Star


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