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A bout of the jitters

  • Published at 02:25 pm August 5th, 2016
  • Last updated at 02:55 am August 7th, 2016
A bout of the jitters

The Facebook status of a Dhaka resident reads: “Today I met a little girl; talkative, sweet, with straight silky hair, 5 years old (turning 6, this October), extremely friendly and expressive! She lives in Bangladesh. She talked about how she feels shy here because there are a lot of people around (it doesn’t seem to matter that I am a complete stranger!), she talked about her friends, her dad, how she thinks Dhaka is over-populated, all within a span of 3 minutes! And then she talked about her trepidations that she might not wake up the next morning because she might be killed by a ‘jongi”. Today I feel ashamed like I have never felt before. I am ashamed of the state we have brought about in this world. I am ashamed that I do not do enough.”

A terrorist attack was carried out in July 1, 2016 at Holey Artisan Bakery and it left the whole country devastated. We are still in mourning. The backgrounds of the terrorists turned out to be quite perplexing. After investigation it was confirmed that most of the terrorists were from well-off families and had English medium schools. They were students of reputed private universities of Bangladesh. One of them had a madrasa background.

Before they carried out the heinous crime they seemed normal young men who had received secular upbringing. It seemed like a dreadful nightmare for their friends and families as they murdered 20 people overnight with blades, guns and bombs. Because their sons and friends were just regular men like the rest, who used to play their favourite sports, hangout with their friends. The reactions of their loved ones showed us a shocking image of those terrorists.

We wanted to know how regular school students, their parents and teachers are facing the traumatic aftermath of the terrorist attack. Not surprisingly, there was hardly anyone who wanted to talk about this issue. When we wanted to talk to some of the parents in front of the gates of some English and Bengali medium schools, most of them seemed nervous.

Our life has changed after the attack. We aren’t feeling safe while sending my son to school as he goes to a Catholic school. The school authority took necessary steps in increasing the safety for the students but it’s not enough. If the terrorists could enter undetected into a highly secured area like Gulshan, then attacking areas like Mohammadpur is not going to be hard for them,” a middle aged mother told Dhaka Tribune.

Slight changes were seen in front of the gates of St. Joseph Higher Secondary School – police were sitting beside the gates and guards were seen holding metal detectors. Guards wouldn't allow reporters to enter the compound when we wanted to talk to the principle. Close circuit cameras were seen in front of the gate of St. Francis Xavier’s Greenherald International School.

A parent of a class 4 student at Dhaka Residential Model High School states “This school was always well-protected but after the incident they aren’t even allowing the parents to enter the campus. Usually we used to wait for our children inside the school, but now we have to wait outside the gate in a particular area. They do not believe any of us and this is normal. It happened due to the attack. We can’t trust anyone, because they are hiding among us.”

A teacher at Maple Leaf School said, “The school authorities are not allowing any guardians to enter the campus of Maple Leaf School unless they have important reasons. Teachers and the school authority are more conscious about students that are absent for more than three days. We are setting more CCTV cameras to have a closer eye on the ground.” She also mentioned that police are checking cars before it enters the school.

Everyone is concerned about the overall security, especially for the young generation of the country. The government has tightened the security measures on different roads, areas, airports and universities. It was a necessary decision by the authorities to tighten the security around the city. The government has ordered the educational institutions to monitor and keep track of students who have missed many classes. They have been instructed to communicate with the parents of those children to find out the reasons behind their absence. Teachers have been asked to be friendlier during the class so that they can identify a student if she/he is going through depression or stress. Parents of missing students are instructed to file a missing report with the police station.

All of the people interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity. The fear was felt in their voices.

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