<i>Nightmare for a 12-yr-old</i>
"I was scared and crying as I washed away the blood.”
Shanto, aged twelve, was petrified when a Rab official forced him at gunpoint to wash the blood of bullet-hit persons from a bridge during Saturday's clash at Rupganj in Narayanganj.
Thousands of angry villagers had fought with law enforcers a fierce battle over a “forced purchase of land” for an army housing scheme.
Shanto, a schoolboy of Boraisoni village, couldn't take any food since he had been through the trauma.
He spent almost a sleepless night and only drank water.
Baton-charged by Rab personnel, Shanto fell to the ground at the corner of a bridge where the villagers gathered in the morning to resist the law enforcers entering the village.
"After I was knocked down, a Rab man pointed a gun at my chest and asked me to wash blood from the bridge," the boy said.
"I carried five to six buckets of water from a nearby canal to mop the blood stains on the bridge," he told The Daily Star yesterday at his village home.
"Then, I saw four to five Rab members carry two persons to a vehicle," he said.
Of the two, one was in lungi and shirt while the other was in lungi and genji (cotton vest). Their clothes were bloodstained, he added.
Shanto said he had run to his mother immediately after Rab men asked him to leave.
"Returning to me, my son was trembling in fear," said Shanto's mother Lutfa Begum. Her husband passed away soon after she conceived Shanto.
She said her son didn't take any food since Saturday's incident and woke up several times from sleep.
On Shanto's account, Commander M Sohail, Rab's Legal and Media Wing director, said, "This is the first time I'm hearing the story and the allegation is false and baseless."
He said Rapid Action Battalion and police went to Rupganj to protect the army camps and civilian lives and properties.
Villagers said at least 30 vehicles of Rab were trying to enter their village through the bridge.
A clash sparked when around one thousand villagers barricaded the battalion's way by burning wood and rubber goods.
Villagers alleged Rab members had charged them with baton and fired gunshots leaving at least 25, including women, injured.
Kamal Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, a teacher of Dhaka University Clinical Psychology department, said a post-traumatic stress disorder might develop in Shanto if his present reaction following the experience continues.