Not only his parents but the whole nation has been saddened, shocked and stunned by the enormity of irresponsibility in action and insensitivity in making remarks by a minister and several departmental heads -- dismissing that four-year-old boy Jihad was not stuck anywhere inside a 600 feet abandoned WASA water pipe where he slipped in accidentally while playing with friends in Shajahanpur Railway Colony on Friday.
Fire fighters, police, WASA officials and engineers hurriedly responded to a disaster call from local residents and swung into a breath-holding rescue operation through the night with thousands of local people and millions across the country watching the painstaking efforts on the site and on TV screens - and praying for the boy's safe recovery.
Meanwhile, his mother fainted and his father, an employee of Motijheel Ideal School and College, passed out in extreme agony after their son got trapped into the pipe, which was left uncovered by sheer negligence of concerned people in Railway and WASA.
As the rescue efforts gained pace with the night deepening, State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, the top boss of WASA, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner and their cronies were all afield at Shajahanpur peeping closely and delivering instructions to the rescuers. At one stage, a high-power modern camera that lay unused for long with WASA was brought to the scene and lowered into the 14 or 17-inch diameter iron pipe that could reach only less than half of the total depth, media on site was informed.
In the process, the monitor connected to the camera disjoined couple of times - with people holding back their breath amid rising tension but felt somewhat relieved when the connection was restored. But unfortunately at 280 feet depth the camera could show only some rubbish, cockroaches and lizards but no trace of the missing boy.
Earlier, fire service men told the media and the milling crowds that Jihad had received "juice" sent down to him through the pipe, responded to calls to check out his safety and spoke to his father - with all signs that he was alive. Rescuers also sent oxygen and torch lights down the pipe to keep him alive and alley his fear in dark.
Everyone was hoping that a piece of good news will emanate after a successful rescue mission.
Suddenly, people on the site and everywhere were taken aback when the minister and couple of others declared that Jihad was not in the pipe as has been shown in camera grab and that the news of his falling into the narrow pipe was nothing but a "rumour." They started leaving the place with a high note of assertion that a terrifying make-believe drama was going to end soon. They, however, did not speculate what could have happened to the minor boy or did he elope all by himself or something serious could happen to him. The minister, Fire Service DG and other high officials watching the fearsome rescue mission just walked off, leaving people to guess on the boy's fate.
The next morning rescue efforts started anew and by early afternoon the Fire DG declared the mission over with no trace of Jihad confirmed. No one who had been waiting near Jihad's death trap could believe this and they stayed back. Soon afterwards, local people resumed the rescue effort all by themselves and after a while they pulled Jihad unconscious from inside the pipe, on Saturday afternoon, 23 hours after he went missing. People burst into cheers in great relief, his fainted mother regained her sense. The boy was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. But alas! Doctors there pronounced Jihad dead. Thousands of people waiting outside the DMCH gate exploded in anger.
Back in Shahjahanpur, angry locals stormed the Railway Colony and attacked whatever came on their way in a wild feat of protest and disapproval. They chanted slogans against the Fire Service men, and demanded the resignation of the minister for their highly irresponsible and insensitive remarks and decision to call off the rescue efforts. "These people should be dealt with heavily and punished for taking the life of an innocent poor child," one man shouted in the crowd.
How the minister, WASA chief and police commissioner would explain the tragedy is not known but surely they need to be made accountable for their failure to save the boy and for leaving a duty undone, whimsically.
Jihad's death is one of worst tragedies that ever happened in Bangladesh and the most glaring example of insincerity and inept action. They stole a life and left a deep scar on the back of the nation.
Anyone responsible for this should not be spared.