Air thick with tears, groans, curses
There was crying, groaning, yelling and the smell of burnt flesh at the overcrowded burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday.
“Whom should I blame for my fate,” said the wife of Abul Hossain in tears while standing amid a few hundred people at the burn unit. “He wanted to feed us. Now he is fighting for his own life,” she said.
On Friday, Abul was returning from work. It was his first day at a new job after four months of unemployment. Yet, his wife was less overjoyed and reluctant to let him go, fearing harm amid violence on the streets.
Abul, a 35-year-old father of two, got Tk 200-a-day job at a chicken-meat shop in the capital's Kathalbagan. He had no other options; He needed the money to feed the family.
Salma's fear came true. Abul received 30 percent body burns when blockaders hurled two petrol bombs at a bus in Jatrabari Friday night. Abul was on that bus returning to his Rupganj home in Narayanganj.
Abul's condition was critical considering injuries to his respiratory organs, said DMCH doctors.
A total of 28 people injured in Friday's attack on the bus were taken to the burn unit.
Abul is among nine victims who sustained critical injuries, from 20 to 48 percent body burns.
Of the Jatrabari victims, Nur Alam received 48 percent burns, the worst of the lot.
Nur's relative Mintu Mian said, “Who enforce hartals and blockades and for what purpose? We, the common people, have no benefit from hartals or blockades. We need to go out of our homes and live our lives.”
A fuming Mintu said after hearing the news the victims' wife fainted several times.
While talking to The Daily Star, victim Salauddin Bhuiyan's brother Al Amin said he requested his brother not to go out. But Salauddin did not listen saying, if he did not join work who would feed him.
Salauddin was returning home from his work on Elephant Road.
Fifteen of the Jatrabari victims received inhalation injuries and they needed treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), said Partha Sankar Pal, resident medical officer of the burn unit.
“But the 10-bed ICU has already been occupied by other critical patients,” he told The Daily Star.
The DMCH authorities released seven of the Jatrabari victims yesterday.
As many as 83 burnt people from across the country were taken to the DMCH burn unit for treatment during this spell of political violence, according to hospital sources.
As of yesterday, 51 were still taking treatment. Five died.
They were additions to the already overcrowded 300-bed unit that caters to around 500 regular patients.
Amid such a situation, the DMCH authorities yesterday limited visitors to the burn unit to prevent infection of patients.
Excessive people are rushing into the unit every day to see the victims, defying the existing restriction on visitors, said Samanta Lal Sen, adviser to the unit.
“Considering the sufferings of the burn victims, the authorities re-imposed the restriction,” he said.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim yesterday visited the victims at the burn unit.
During his visit, the health minister termed the prevailing political violence as stray incidents and said the government was taking measures to stop such crimes.