Eid used to be a joyous affair for five-year-old Rahat until just a few months back. But this year, a pall of grief has engulfed his whole family following his father’s untimely and tragic death.
This Eid-ul-Azha, there is only dead silence and no joy or festivity in the house of Minu Sheikh, father of Rahat, in Tepibari village under Tangail’s Bhuapur upazila.
Minu Sheikh, 30, who lost his life after he was severely beaten by an angry mob who suspected him to be a child kidnapper.
Minu’s widow Rina Akter, 25, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child cannot believe the misfortune that fell upon her family.
“Everything is doomed with my husband’s death,” she said.
“He was the sole bread earner for the family. Despite committing no crime, my husband had to die after he was severely beaten by the cruel mob. Now who will run this family? What is the future of my children?” Rina asked.
“My five-year-old son Rahat still keeps staring outside the window, hoping to see his father coming towards the house.”
The tragic incident took place on July 21. Minu, a rickshaw van puller by profession, decided to catch fish and sell it in the local market to buy food for the family.
His rickshaw van was lying idle as his village was inundated by flood water forcing him to try other means to feed his family.
He borrowed some money from a neighbour and went to Soya Market in Kalihati upazila to buy net for fishing. At the market, an adolescent boy tried to pick his pocket but he managed to grab the boy’s hand. The boy then screamed prompting the people in the market to surround Minu. They beat him up indiscriminately.
A rumour regarding child abduction has been making the rounds for a while, and several people lost their lives in similar incidents of mob beating across the country.
Although Minu claimed himself to be innocent, nobody listened to him. They kept beating him up mercilessly, until a police team arrived on the spot and rescued a severely injured Minu from the scene.
He was rushed to Kalihati Upazila Health Complex, and was later shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital on the same day after his condition deteriorated.
He later succumbed to his injuries on July 29 while undergoing treatment at the hospital.
“We had to keep Minu on the stairs of DMCH for the first two days due to lack of a bed, and he laterdied due to lack of proper treatment and lack of money for his treatment,” Rina said.
“He was not killed for committing any crime. He was murdered over a rumour, and the government has the responsibility to stop such rumours. I demand justice for my husband’s death to the prime minister, as well as due compensation,” she told journalists.
“Minu was known as a good man to the villagers and the local people are very sad as well as angry over his death. They want exemplary punishment of those who were responsible for his death,” said Shariful Alam, a local municipality councillor.
He also urged the authorities concerned to take measures to ensure education for Minu’s children.
Hasan Al Mamun, officer-in-charge of Kalihati Police Station, said eight people have been arrested so far in a case filed by Minu’s brother in connection with the incident.
The arrestees were sent to jail after being produced before the local court, he added.