In an ironic twist of fate, a newsperson has become a news item herself. This teenage girl, who collected various news items every week, found herself on a hospital bed when unidentified miscreants hurled a petrol bomb at a running bus near the Children’s Park at Shahbagh area in the capital on Thursday evening. Two persons were killed and 17 others, including a lawyer, a banker, a policeman and the driver of the bus, were seriously injured.
Hailing from Laxmibazar area of the old town, Susmita Sen, younger daughter of Gopal Sen, an employee of an electronics shop at Saderghat area, had long cherished a dream to become a famous television journalist so that she could work for the common people.
To fulfil her long-standing dream, Susmita started working as a reporter for ‘Mukta Khobor’, a children-related news event broadcast by the private television channel Ekushey Television when she was a student of class V. Susmita, now an intermediate student at Dhaka Mohanagir College, has been involved in many cultural activities since her childhood.
An active member of Nattajon, a theatre group, she has performed in many programmes both at home and abroad. Because of her outstanding performance as a children’s journalist, she was awarded the Meena Media Award by UNICEF this year in the broadcast media category at a programme held at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital on September 24. She received the prize in the presence of information minister Hasanul Haq Inu and UNICEF country representative Pascal Villeneuve.
Talking exclusively to The Independent at the post operative section of the burn and plastic surgery unit of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Susmita said, “I,
along with my mother, was going to Kawran Bazar office of Ekushey Television. I was scheduled to give voice for a Mukta Khobor programme, scheduled to be broadcast at 5.30pm on Friday.”
“But the arson attack led to my being admitted to hospital,” the girl said, her face streaked with tears, adding, “I am not worried about myself, but about my mother, who was severely burnt in the incident.”
About her daily life, Susmita said, “Barring my current study and part-time journalism, I am also involved in music and dance and I always had a dream of working for deprived women, particularly to resist violence against women across the country. Now I myself have become a victim of political violence.”
She, however, iterated, “Nothing will be able to stop me, I shall definitely go forward to realise my dream to be a daring journalist and an activist against all kinds of violence, especially violence against women.”
Another cultural activist of Nattajon Theater, Raju Deb, who is also her boyfriend, said, “We had discussed how to create massive awareness about acid attacks on women through cultural events like drama several times, when we jointly performed several stage plays with Nattajon Theater.”
Referring to Thursday’s incident, Gita Sen, the mother of the injured teenaged journalist, said, “Nobody in the bus could actually understand anything before it happened. Suddenly we saw fire and heard shouting. Sensing trouble, I first pushed out my daughter from the burning bus to save her, but I myself could not get out of the bus as all the passengers tumbled down together from the bus to save themselves.”
“Some unknown people brought us to the DMCH,” the middle-aged housewife said.
Gita Sen said, “We are very poor, but as we wanted to ensure that my younger daughter Susmita gets higher education and can pursue her hobby, we shifted from Tatibazar area to Laxmibazar five years back.”
“My husband was the only earning member of our four-member family. He could not bear the large educational expenses of our two young daughters. That is why my elder daughter, Kona Sen, was forced to take up a government job, abandoning her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA) course.”
“As their father has to go to the electronics shop in the morning and returns only at night, I have to do all household chores” she said, adding, “I always accompany Susmita whenever she goes for drama or music performances, and even when she goes to Ekushey Television.” “But who shall bear our expensive medical expenses now? Who will complete my household chores?” the worried housewife asked, her voice choking.
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old youth, who sustained burn injuries in the same incident, died on Friday afternoon at DMCH in the city.
The deceased Robin, son of one Abdus Salam, hailing from Shibchor upazila of Madaripur district, lived at Radio Colony area in the city’s suburb of Savar.
Earlier, Robin’s cousin Nahid also succumbed to his injuries at 11:00 pm on Thursday while undergoing treatment in the burn unit.
In a sudden development, top Opposition BNP leaders, including its acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, vice chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka, standing committee member Mirza Abbas, joint secretaries general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Aman Ullan Aman, Barkatullah Bulu and Salauddin Ahmed, and leader Abdus Salam were sued in connection with the incident.
Talking to The Independent, Maruf Hasan Sardar, deputy police commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna zone), confirmed the case filed at Shahbagh police station against the BNP leaders for instigating the barbaric arson attacks. He said, “Sixteen persons were named while three others were unnamed in the case statement.”
However, in a statement on Thursday night, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir held government “agents” responsible for the arson at Shahbagh.
Two persons were killed and 17 others, including the TV journalist and her mother, a lawyer, a banker, a policeman and the driver of the bus sustained severe burn injuries when the vehicle was set ablaze by unidentified miscreants near the Children’s Park at Shahbagh on Thursdayevening.
-With The Independent input