The family members of Rajib Hossain, who died after losing his hand that got stuck between two buses in the capital on this day last year, neither got justice nor any compensation.
Investigation into the death of Rajib, a third-year student of Titumir Government College, is still going on. The Supreme Court in May last year stayed a High Court order that directed owners of the two buses to pay Tk 1 crore to Rajib's family.
The death of 21-year-old Rajib, who was orphaned at an early age, has made the future of his two teen brothers uncertain.
Rajib used to support his brothers with the money he earned from a part-time job and giving private tuitions.
His right hand was severed after it got stuck between two buses that were racing each other in the capital's Karwan Bazar.
After being in coma for two weeks, Rajib died on April 17.
“But accidents continue. If the drivers were punished [after Rajib's death] and the owners had to pay compensation, the situation might have changed … ,” Rajib's aunt Jahanara Begum told this correspondent on Monday.
On July 29, last year, two college students were run over and killed by a bus in the capital, triggering an unprecedented student agitation for safe roads.
The demonstrations forced the government to take several steps aimed at curbing road accidents. Transport owners also decided to abolish the system of daily contracts with drivers and their helpers to stop buses from competing for passengers and racing on streets to complete high number of trips.
But the situation remained almost the same. The competition, believed to be the root cause behind Rajib's death, continues.
On March 19, university student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury was run over and killed by a bus of Suprobhat Paribahan. The bus was racing another bus. Hundreds of students took to the streets for safe roads again, and the authorities came up with almost the same promises.
Police arrested the drivers of the BRTC and Sajan Paribahan buses involved in the incident that led to Rajib's death.
Edrish Ali, the investigation officer of the case, said both the accused were in jail. “I am verifying information,” Edrish, a sub-inspector at Shahbagh Police Station told The Daily Star on April 1.
Asked when he would be able to complete the probe, he said, “It is not possible to give a specific date.”
Asked why the probe was taking so long, he said, “I won't answer for the sake of the investigation.”
The case filed over the deaths of the two college students in July last year had made better progress.
A Dhaka court indicted six bus owners, drivers and helpers of the two buses of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan on October 25 last year. Thirty-one prosecution witnesses have already testified.
NO COMPENSATION YET
Following a writ petition, the High Court on May 8, 2018, ordered the bus companies to pay Tk 1 crore to Rajib's family.
The BRTC and Sajan Paribahan challenged the HC's order and the Supreme Court on May 22 stayed the order and asked the HC to form an independent committee to assess the liabilities.
The committee, led by Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of Accident Research Institute at Buet, in its report submitted in September said reckless driving was the “primary cause of the accident”.
It largely blamed the Sajan Paribahan bus for the accident. The report said the buses were racing and the Sajan Paribahan bus tried to drive into a gap to block the gate of the BRTC bus. The Sajan Paribahan bus side swiped the BRTC bus which resulted in Rajib being fatally injured.
The report pointed out that the heavy vehicles were illegally being driven by drivers with licences to drive light vehicles. It held the BRTC bus liable to “some extent”.
Both the buses were on daily leases to drivers and helpers.
Ruhul Quddus Kazal, the writ petitioner and Supreme Court lawyer, told The Daily Star on April 1 that the SC stayed the HC's order for compensation.
He said he would try to get a date set for the final hearing on the rule at the High Court.
Rajib's 13-year-old and 14-year-old brothers stay at a hostel of a madrasa in Mir Hazirbagh of capital's Jatrabari.
“We are concerned about their future … If they receive the compensation, they will get a little relief from the financial problems,” Jahanara Begum said.
She said after the death of Rajib, a local lawmaker promised to name a madrasa after him, an upazila chairman promised to name a road after him, and union council chairman promised to set up deep tube-well at his home.
“But none kept their promises,” she said.
She said, “We want to see an end to the unhealthy competition of buses. We want justice.”
At least 1,212 people were killed and 2,429 others injured in 1,168 road accidents in first three months of this year, according to National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR).
The non-government organisation, which prepared the stats based on media reports, found competitive attitude among some drivers, reckless driving, and daily lease of vehicles to drivers or conductors, were the major reasons behind the accidents.