| Sajida at the relief camp on Sunday. Picture by Sumir Karmakar |
Bhangarpar (Baksa), May 4: Eight-year-old Sajida refuses to leave her father, Saiful Islam, for a minute ever since her mother, Rohima Khatun, was killed on Thursday evening.
She saw her mother drop dead behind her and saw a bullet hitting her younger sister Amina.
“Abba had gone to the market and I went to see a quack with my mother and two sisters in a nearby house. Suddenly everyone started running and there were sounds. We got scared and ran towards the river. My mother and two sisters were behind me. I turned to look at them and saw my mother fall down. I stopped and saw my sister, Amina, too, was lying next to her in a pool of blood. I grabbed my other sister Hafiza and ran for our lives,” Sajida told this correspondent here at Naraya-nguri Azad Primary School.
Sajida has learnt a new word — bullet — and she told everybody that her mother and sister were hit by bullets.
Altogether 498 people from Narayanguri and NK Khagrabari are taking shelter at the school since yesterday. Of them, 200 are minors.
The attackers targeted the two villages on the other bank of the Beki river around 3pm on Thursday, fired indiscriminately and set the houses on fire. Eighteen people were found dead while many were admitted to hospital with injuries. Sajida’s sister Amina was also admitted to Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College in Barpeta, about 40km away.
The villagers have to cross the river in boats to reach Bhangarpar market for daily shopping. “We crossed the river as the water level was low, but found it deep in the second stretch of the river. There were two other small boys with us. We found a boat but there was neither a boatman nor oars. It was dark and cold and I started shivering. I cried and shouted but could not find my father,” Sajida said.
“After about two hours, a bhootbooti (motorboat) came and brought us here. They (those who gathered) lit a fire to keep us warm. They gave us water and we slept on the floor. When I woke up, I found my father by our side,” she said, clutching onto her father’s shirt.
“She has not let me out of her sight since that moment,” said Saiful. His other daughter Hafiza did not look at the camera though Momiran, her maternal aunt, tried her best.
Eleven children had been killed in attacks in Baksa and neighbouring Kokrajhar districts in the BTAD since May 2. Three children died in the attack on Balapara village in Kokrajhar district on the night of May 2 in which eight people died.
The children’s death in the attacks has drawn flak from National NGO Child Rights Coalition, an umbrella organisation of NGOs, working for child rights.
Area convener (Northeast) Chiranjeeb Kakoty said children either become direct victims of violence or traumatised after their loved ones are killed or attacked. “India is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which makes the state responsible for the overall protection and development of children. But killings of children have proved how they are still insecure,” Kakoty said.
The NGO coalition demanded action against those responsible for killing children and called all groups, both underground and overground, not to resort to violence that affect children.