Treatment of Eyes: Siddiqur to be flown to India
Titumir college student Siddiqur Rahman, whose eyes were damaged in “police excess” during a demonstration in Shahbagh on Thursday, would be flown to India on Thursday for better treatment.
“Siddiqur will be taken to Sankara Nethralaya Hospital in Chennai on Thursday where his treatment will begin from Friday after some medical tests,” Parikshit Chowdhury, information officer of the health and family welfare ministry, told The Daily Star.
The government would be paying for his treatment, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim told reporters after visiting him at the National Institute of Ophthalmology in Agargaon.
Siddiqur's eyes were damaged after a policeman, as seen in a video footage, shot a teargas canister directly at the agitating college students at Shahbagh on Thursday. Siddiqur collapsed on the street instantly.
He cannot see with his right eye. Doctors said there was still a chance, however slim, for the left eye as it responded to light once or twice when the physicians removed the bandage on Sunday.
Siddiqur wants the “policeman who made his entire world dark brought to book”.
"The way police attacked me, I don't want anyone to be a victim of such attacks," said the third-year political science student yesterday.
“I just want to work for the people, if I could see again,” said Siddiqur, who comes from a poor family of Tarakanda in Mymensingh.
He had lost his father when he was only three years old.
“Since then [after his father passed away], my brother toiled hard to educate me, he is still doing so … ,” he said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said, “We will of course find out whose negligence led to the sad incident. If negligence is found, the responsible person will be brought to book.”
A three-member probe committee is investigating the matter. Another committee would be formed if this one failed to come up with satisfactory findings.
Talking to a TV channel last night, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said they had several video clips of the incident and that the probe body was analysing them.
Punitive actions would be taken if the probe body found any policeman guilty. The image of the police force with two lakh personnel cannot be tarnished by a few, he said.
He said he had talked to Siddiqur twice and had seen the injury marks below his eyes. “For arguments sake, if we say that a canister or a brick chunk hit him, there should not be injury marks under both the eyes.”
A person could get injured if he or she was caught in the line of a fired teargas canister, he said, adding that canisters were usually fired at 45 degree angle.
If a policeman had fired the canister directly at the demonstrators, then he would be responsible for it, he said.
“This is unexpected and saddening. Neither we nor the state can evade the responsibility,” he said, adding that the state has taken steps for his treatment abroad and the police were helping.
The students of seven colleges -- Dhaka College, Eden Mohila College, Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Mohila College, Mirpur Government Bangla College and Government Titumir College -- staged demonstrations at Shahbagh for their eight-point demand that include announcement of their exam dates.
The authorities of the colleges, affiliated with Dhaka University, announced the exam dates after the incident on last Thursday.
The police action on the students, especially on Siddiqur, during an apparent peaceful demonstration sparked huge outcry on social media, with a call to bring the responsible policemen to book.
Siddiqur said, “We had only placards-festoons and banner-posters. No one threw bricks at police. No one can prove anything like that.”
But police that night filed a case against around 1,200 unnamed students of the seven colleges in connection with attempting to kill policemen, rioting with lethal weapons and damaging properties.
The protesting students believe that police filed the case to “misdirect attention from what they did to Siddiqur”.
“On many occasions, different groups staged sit-ins at Shahbagh intersection and clashed with police but we have hardly seen any case filed by police,” said a student of Kabi Nazrul College, preferring anonymity.
Students of seven government colleges yesterday demanded withdrawal of the case. They sought the prime minister's intervention after Inspector General of Police Shahidul Hoque on Monday said the case would not be withdrawn.
Siddiqur thanked the media for its wholehearted support. “Media took up the issue and the government and the people came forward,” he added.