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So near, yet so far
Photographs and text : Alamgir Hossain & Monirul Alam

There was no answer when I asked Sahachori about human rights. She does not know what human right is. In Bangladesh the concept of human rights is unknown to a large section of population. Taking advantage of this situation some people violate human rights in various ways to fulfill their personal aggrandizement. Weak laws and their weaker implementation are the main culprits for this.

Sahachori lives in Molanish Para, a backward village in Keraniganj Thana on the Dhaka Mawa highway, three kilometers far from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Although it is so close to the capital city modern development is yet to reach the village. There is no gas or any source of safe drinking water here.

Sahachori, mother of three children, meets her domestic expenses with great difficulty. Her husband Angi Sarkar is a habitual drunkard. He does not share any responsibility of supporting the family. Sahachori has to toil hard to feed all members of the family. She owns a small piece of land on which she grows potatoes. Her children help grow the crop and sell those in the local market. They do not go to school. Sahachori finds herself fighting a losing battle. She is worried about the future of her children. She wants to send them to school, but cannot. She does not know whether or not she can continue the way she has been doing for last few years.

Joyanta Talukdar is a close relative of her. He works at a printing press as block designer. With the introduction of computers printing technology has changed overnight. As demand for manual block designers is falling rapidly, he finds his job threatened by the development of modern science. He does not have a regular job now. Now he earns only Tk 1,200-15,00 per month which is not enough to support his family of four. He tries to get involved with agricultural work.

Sahachari and Joyanta told us that this desolate path with Kolmi bushes spread for miles on both sides was not a safe place. Anyone could be waylaid any time, even in broad daylight. Some girls, who had come to the place to see the lonely beauty of the place had been molested in the past. Snatching and extortion are also very common. The place has become a safe haven for criminals. For this reason, the local Chairman has ordered to cut all the bushes on the roadsides so that criminals could not ambush passers by. Both Joyanta and Sahachari were for the time being employed bythe Chairman to clear the wayside of the Kalmi bush. This however is a temporary job. It will be over in a few days. None of the two knows
what will happen to them and their families after that.

During our conversation with them, we wanted to know about their ideas about the right to have a decent job. To our great disappointment, we found that they were not conscious about anything of the sort.

One interesting fact that we realised was that the village had electricity, but most of the households did not have any connection. The reason was poverty. They cannot pay for installing meters and fitting wires. The drum beatings of development will take many more years to reach this village which is only three kilometers from the hub of national


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  Photo : Abir Abdullah/ Drik