In his death the boy exposes the authorities? utter callousness and abysmal insensitivity, ineptitude and incapacity to face disasters
The body of the ill fated Jihad was recovered on Saturday, 23 hours after the four-year-old boy had slipped into an open pipe of an abandoned deep tube-well at Shahjahanpur in the city, despite repeated claims of the authorities that there was none inside.
Rafiqul Islam, Assistant Director of the Fire Services Headquarters, said that the boy was rescued at around 3 pm and then sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
Minutes after he was rushed to the DMCH, Doctors confirmed that the child was brought dead. DMCH residential doctor Riaz Morshed also confirmed it. There were marks of injury in his body and the child was not moving when he was pulled out of the abandoned well.
Private rescuers retrieved the body shortly after the Fire Services abandoned their rescue operation having failed to trace the boy in the pipe with a sophisticated camera.
When efforts with sophisticated instruments failed to even locate Jihad, a simple handmade tool made by three private volunteers eventually succeeded in bringing him out, though, it was too late.
Three rescuers Shah Mohammad Abdullah, Safiqul Islam and Rahul Dash, who also volunteered during last year's Rana Plaza tragedy in Savar, made the device with a net, a close circuit camera, a torch, a tri-stand and a cleat tied to a 600-foot-long rope.
The volunteers had the chance to use it only after the fire services declared abandoned the operation. They found Jihad from underneath a floating object like a cork sheet.
They sent the machine down the well shaft and hooked Jihad's body into the net. Then they brought it out by hooking the net to the cleat. The entire operation was carried out with the help of the CC Camera.
Fire Service Director General Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan announced a halt to the 23-hour long rescue mission at around 2:30pm on Saturday at a press conference at the accident site.
He said, "The operation team of the Fire Service has found no existence of human being inside the well shaft. However, we continued the rescue efforts as the parents requested us to."
"We are now handing over the operation to railway engineers. They will take further steps in this regard and the fire fighters will help them if necessary."
"We are thanking all for their efforts and express our condolences to the family members of the minor boy," said the DG.
Fire Service Deputy Assistant Director Md Halim spoke to the reporters at 10am Saturday, 17 hours after the frantic rescue efforts started. "There is no victim down below... We have nothing more to do here. We are assisting the locals in their traditional methods." The rescuers had lowered a borehole camera around 250 feet down the 14-inch-wide pipe, looking for the child for an hour without success.
Jihad's mother Khadiza Begum demanded that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina punish those, including State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who termed Jihad's falling into the well a rumour.
Before recovering Jihad's body there was a spell of speculations about the incident being a hoax. The nation waited anxiously with their fingers crossed and eyes glued to the live TV to watch.
Despite their renewed efforts since 9:30am, the fire fighters, who have been conducting rescue operation since on Friday, failed to send the "catcher" at the bottom till 11:00am.
Meanwhile, Shahjahanpur police had taken Jihad's father Nasiruddin, who works as a security guard at the Motijheel School and College, into custody after 3am on Friday midnight. Anwar Hossain Additional Deputy Commissioner of Motijheel Police zone said, "He is in our custody for security concerns. He will remain with us until the situation returns to normal."
Jihad is the youngest of his parents' three children. His mother Khadiza Begum was in a state of shock while neighbours tried to calm her. Nasiruddin lives at House No. 41 in the Railway Colony at Shahjahanpur.
Jihad fell inside the 17-inch diameter shaft, around 40 yards from his house at Shahjahanpur, at about 4:00pm on Friday while playing with other children. The fire brigade personnel employed various techniques one after another, including lowering in a sack tied with a rope, hoping to pull out the boy but failed.
The camera completed its slide into the hole around 2:00am but there was no sign of the boy. The monitor showed some ragged clothes only.
"From what we have seen from the footage of the camera, we can say there is no-one there," Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters around 2:45am on Saturday, almost 11 hours after the rescue operation began.
"We are yet to find the boy. But we are still trying and we will lower in the camera again," fire service Director General Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan told reporters at 3:00am at the site.
There was confusion also about the depth of the well shaft at Shahjahanpur Railway Colony in Dhaka. The State Minister for Home said it was about 253 feet while some individuals who as well sent a camera down the pit put the depth at over 600 feet.
A high-powered camera failed to locate a four-year-old boy, who fell into the abandoned well, prompting officials to doubt whether the child had at all fallen into the hole.
In a second attempt, non-government experts sent another camera around 4:00am. It got obstructed again after reaching 240 feet.
After NSI Joint Director Abu Sayeed Raihan termed the news of Jihad's falling in the shaft a rumour, State Minister Kamal said that no human being has been seen inside, which made the shocked family of Jihad aggrieved. Jihad's mother Khadiza Begum, who was wailing all the while, rushed to the spot.
"Please don't stop the rescue operation now. Please get him out of there," she started to cry at the top of her voice.
She, at this time, pointed out that the rescuers told her about hearing Jihad's voice from the well and sending in juice and torchlight. "How can the boy, all of a sudden, just vanish from there?" she cried.
Hundreds of aggrieved locals in Shahjahanpur on Saturday vandalised a few makeshift shanties protesting against the "slow rescue operation".
The agitated crowd also demanded resignation of State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for his statement.
Contacted, FSCD Assistant Director (Dhaka) Rafiqul Islam said they had first tried to rescue Jihad with the help of a rope and a sack but it went in vain. "The mouth of the pipe is only 16-17-inch in diameter. Besides, it was very difficult to climb up for the child holding a rope," he added.
Some food, juice and mineral water were also dropped into the pipe along with torchlight. They were also constantly providing oxygen into the pipe to keep the boy alive. Fire brigade men also lifted a two-inch pipe along with a pump having inside the 16-17 -inch pipe to facilitate the rescue operation.
Meanwhile, the railway authorities suspended senior sub-assistant engineer Jahangir Alam for the negligence of his duty. The contractor firm responsible for plugging the hole was blacklisted.