Akmal’s eldest maternal uncle Mansur Ahmed was a member of the central committee of a progressive political party. His two daughters were Shipra Ahmed and Shila Ahmed. Shipra was a student of third year in Dhaka University. Shila had just got admitted in the University. Shipra loved Akmal very deeply. She was determined to marry him, even if her parents objected. Apparently, all the members of her family had a soft corner for Akmal. Shila knew that Shipra also had a weakness for Akmal. Shila also liked him. For this reason she kept a distance from Akmal. Another girl in place of Shila would have been a thorn in the path of Shipra. Though envious, Shila accepted this love affair with good grace.
Shipra got the news that Akmal had been arrested. She began to weep. Shila informed her father that Shipra was weeping, but her father did not pay head to the matter. Even though he was very anxious about Akmal, he was afraid that he might be implicated in the affair. Shipra’s mother tried to persuade her to stop crying, but she failed. Her weeping did not cease. Rather it increased, and her eyes became puffy and red.
Shila ran out and brought a painkiller tablet for her sister. She tried her best to give it to Shila, but she wouldn’t take it. She stood on her word that she would never take a painkiller.
Shipra was very much disgusted with her father Mansur Ahmed. What sort of a man was he? Even after knowing that his nephew Akmal had been arrested by the police he was sitting idle at home. He was not inquiring about Akmal anywhere. Nor was he talking with anyone on the issue. Had he wished he could home saved Akmal. But he was doing nothing for his only nephew. Perhaps he was thinking that his nephew must have committed some offence. It might so happen that Akmal had done nothing wrong, the cops arrested him by mistake. If these could be explained clearly to the police Akmal might come out from confinement.
‘For that some one has to be approached.’ Shila was contemplating whether she should go to any police official. She would of course go, if it meant any benefit to Akmal, but her efforts would not be effective. She felt if her father took the initiative he might have been successful. He was a man of influence in the society.
If she went to the police station she would have to depend on her father’s identity. The officer in charge might ask her ‘Why didn’t your father come? Akmal is his only nephew. Why didn’t his uncle come in time of his great need?’ How would she reply?
She was thinking about all these but she could not come to any conclusion. She called her mother and put a lot of allegations against her father. ‘Well Mummy, Daddy was a senior minister in the cabinet of the previous government.’ She said. Doesn’t he have anyone who can ring up the police station? Then why is he idling away his time at home?’
Nilufar replied in a cool voice, ‘I told your father. Of course he will take steps in this regard. Don’t worry.’
‘Why shouldn’t I worry?’ asked Shipra. If I found that after the arrest of Akmal, Daddy was moving around to get his release. I’d have nothing to say. But after getting the news he is very indifferent.’
‘Who told you this?’ Nilufar wanted to know ‘should we do everything with a bang. Keep calm. Things will improve.’
‘Mummy, how will everything be all right? If cops beat Akmal Bhai.’
‘Why should the cops beat him?’ Nilufar asked. ‘He was arrested on such an allegation. At best he might be interrogated.’
‘Mummy you are taking everything very lightly. In fact, things are not as like as you think.’ Shila said.
‘Now a days, interrogation means beating, torture and oppression. I am seeing through my mental eyes. The cops are beating Akmal Bhai. He is shouting and crying.’
Shipra began to weep. Nilufar Jahan could not bear the tears of her daughter. She rushed to her politician husband Mansur Ahmad. With an inquiring and demanding voice she asked, ‘Did you try to know about your nephew? Or have you given up your initiative?’
‘I can’t make out from where and from whom. I can’t get any information about Akmal from Manzur’s office. They said that he was at Chittagong on an official visit. I phoned Akmal’s father. There was no response. I can’t follow whether he is aware of what happened to his son. I am at a loss at what to do.’
‘Sitting idle at home will not bring any result. Do something.’ Nilufar urged her husband.
‘I can’t say anything until I talk to Manzur. Whatever we have to do, we should do on his advice.’
‘A leader of opposition has many practical problems. If I want to talk about Akmal, I might be entangled in the case. In fact we are passing through a bad time. I have not encountered such bad time during my whole political career. In every field there exist serious tension and grave uncertainty. Politicization has reached such an extreme point that no government employee is neutral today. Earlier it was said that Government employees are servants of the people.’ Now it is said, ‘They are the servants of the ruling government. They become members of the ruling party whenever they get any opportunity.’
‘But what else can they do? If they do not put on the party’s dress they face many problems. Their promotions are blocked. Their posting remains suspended or they are sent to dumping posts. For these reasons, not only the bureaucrats but also many opportunist people have begun to change their dress. Those who failed to compromise are facing a lot of trouble. If I had always remained with the government party take some opportunity, perhaps there would have been no problems for me. But I could not do this in my life.’ In this way Mansur Ahmed explained his position to his wife.
‘You should have avoided politics. You should give up politics’. Nilufar said with a bit of anger.
The feeling of disappointment was apparent in Mansur’s voice. He said, ‘I now feel that politics is no longer within the grip of the politicians. Politics is now controlled by black money and muscle power. That’s why injustice and oppression are increasing day by day. There has been serious deterioration in law an order. Corruption is swallowing the whole society. The funny thing is that if I want to talk about Akmal first of all I will be asked, ‘To which party do you belong, government or opposition? If you are in the opposition be off from here.’
Previously such things did not happen. Party affiliation was immaterial. Politics had some sort of acceptability to the people. Today that is non-existent, that’s why the country is moving like a boat without a boatman. It seems that the country has no guardian. In fact the autocratic rulers made politics difficult. Now the politicians are invalid in the fields of politics. They are snakes without any poison. Politics has no future in this country’.
‘You need not show again that you are an angry man. Nilufar told her husband. During student life in the campus and at present in your family life I heard so many of your lectures. I no longer like to listen to such rhetoric’s. Listen to my only request today. I’ve never requested you anything I tolerated many ups and downs in your family. Till today I’ve kept your family in order. As a reward I never wanted anything from you. Today I have a very small request to you. I can no longer tolerate the tears of my daughter. She is crying for Akmal. I don’t know what will happen to her if Akmal is not freed. She is let down very much. She wept for Akmal for two hours. I can’t tolerate this scene any more. Moreover Akmal is the only son of your lone sister. Your sister is not alive today. My fervent request to you is, do something for the boy. I think I should not remind you.’
Mansur Ahmed could not understand what he should do. He felt that he should do something. Akmal’s past record is spotless. He was not such a boy, as would do something foolish, or in a hurry.
He was wondering how Akmal could be arrested. He had such a brilliant background. What might be the reason of his arrest? Was it the result of a conspiracy? Akmal’s father Professor Humayun Kabir was a much talked about person. In his political columns he blamed the alliance government for the rise of fundamentalism. Mansur Ahmed was thinking over a column of Humayun Kabir published recently. In that column he wrote that freedom fighters were neglected most in the country. Progressive leaders are being killed by fundamentalists according to blueprint, which was a cause of great concern for all.
These sorts of writing must have angered the government. Perhaps Akmal was made a scapegoat. If the professor was arrested the media would start comprehensive campaign against the government. Foreign countries and international human rights organizations would raise a hue and cry. To avoid such criticism the government has arrested Akmal instead of his father. Mansur Ahmed was hesitant for his nephew lest he was implicated in the case. Such events were the order of the day. The government does not bother for anyone except their henchmen. The government thinks that, the press is not portraying the truth, rather they are exaggerating. Was the government thinking the right way? Rather the press is writing far less than what really happened. The real situation was more serious.
Mansur Ahmed recalled that a few days back his favorite government official. Nomanul Haq told him that he had been transferred to Dhaka quite recently. What he told him was really a matter of great concern. He informed that there was a law and order committee in each district of the country .The member secretary of the committee was the Deputy Commissioner, but its President was the local member of the Parliament. The committee represents all political parties. Due to harassment of the government the members of the Parliament, belonging to opposition did not attend the meeting of the committee. Not only that they remained out of their constituencies. As a result, a partner in the ruling alliance, Jamate Islami, could approve whatever they desired. The deputy commissioners are compelled to agree with the decisions. In this way Jamat and religious bigot were gradually gaining ground in the upazilas and districts. Their roots have already been planted everywhere in the country.
Besides, recently a few religious fanatic extreme political parties have become very active in northern and southwestern parts of the country. They are taking military training in different parts of the country. Equipped with huge arms and ammunition they are enhancing their strength. Already they have proved their existence by attacking the progressive forces in different parts of the country. Some reports have been published in different newspapers about their activities a forceful movement against their nefarious activities is not enough. They should be crushed from the root. A big upsurge is a must for the success of such a movement .The mass upsurge of 1969-removed Pakistani autocracy. Through the bloody movement of 1971 the country was freed from occupation forces. In the mass upsurge of 1990 the counterpart of Pakistani autocracy was toppled. Now another mass upsurge has become imperative to remove fundamental forces from the political arena.
If the people were not sensitized such a movement may not get ground. That’s why the progressive political parties should unite and carry on meetings and rallies all the year round. Otherwise the country can’t be saved. If we fail in our duty the future generations will not forgive us.
Shila was standing in front of the door with a grim face. She was silent. She was looking at her father. When Mansur Ahmed saw his daughter he found her eyes full of tears. To give her solace he said – ‘What happened to you my dear?’
Shila said in a sobbing voice, ‘Shila is continuing to cry. Please console her daddy.’ ‘Yes, I’ll do.’ Mansur replied.
‘Please go to her right now.’ Shila requested her father. ‘Yes I am going.’ ‘Could you do something about Akmal Bhai?’ Shipra wanted to know.
‘Not yet’ replied her father.
Shila said, ‘Daddy, do you know what I feel.’ ‘What do you feel?’ Mansur Ahmed wanted to know.
‘No, let me drop the issue.’ Shila said.
‘Do you feel very bad for your sister?’ Mansur asked her.
She nodded. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Mansur Ahmed looked at her and said, don’t be sad. I am trying my best to remove the tears of your sister.’
 In Bangladesh elder brothers are called ‘Bhai’