Zakir’s Eid, this time outside jail

After five years of unfortunate separation from his wife and children, Zakir Hossain, who had been serving life term wrongfully for another Zakir, is now happy to celebrate Eid this year with them, outside the jail.

“This year, the Eid is going to be amazing for us. We will go to the [children’s] parks and many other places with father,” said Zakir’s elder son Sazzad Hossain.

Sazzad and his 10-year-old younger brother Mohammad Shaon, and their mother Umme Kulsum all were delighted much this time to have their beloved and affectionate man beside them during the festivity.

Zakir said his wife and children used to meet him at the jail during the past Eid days, until this time, courtesy the High Court that freed him last week and a Bangla daily which ran a report in June elaborating on his wrongful jail term.

His two sons and wife had to go fasting those days as Zakir had no savings. And finding no other alternative, Sazzad at his 10 started to work as an “assistant” at a cloth store at Polwell Market in city’s Naya Paltan area.

Ahead of this Eid, Sazzad has managed to buy his father clothes and sandal, said Zakir while talking to The Daily Star yesterday.

In the last five years, the family had to undergo severe economic crisis as the only earning member had to go to jail in 2007, indeed for no offence. With the situation worsening, they had to leave the Paltan house they rented and started living in a slum.

Sazzad was a class six student then. Shaon now reads in class one at a local school.

As Sazzad had earned only Tk 900-1,000 a month, his mother started serving as a domestic help for livelihood.

Zakir had been working as a clerk at a private recruiting firm in Paltan area.

“Even with their [wife and elder son] meagre earnings, they often managed to visit me at Kashimpur Central Jail with soap, oil, cloths and other essential items I needed in jail,” Zakir said.

“You will be astonished to hear that on hearing my release from jail, my elder son bought sandal for me worth Tk 700 from his hardwork earning,” he added.

FIGHT BACK

Talking to The Daily Star, Sazzad said he was hopeful to resume his studies again from next year.

“I like to go to school very much and I wish to become a big officer,” said the boy who was supposed to be in class twelve now.

Zakir’s absence has battered the family so much so that he was doubtful about recovering from the distress. With The Daily Star, he shared his pains and frustrations.

“I could not continue my studies as my mother had died while I was in class four. So, all my dreams were to educate my children and to make them officers. But those dreams shattered in the last five years in jail,” said a tearful Zakir.

“I used to spend most of my earnings to meet the educational expenses of my elder child who was a student of Fakirerpool Govt High School.”

Umme Kulsum, who was 27 years of age in 2007, will leave her present job where she gets around Tk 2,500, said Zakir.

“My wife had no choice but to leave all shyness and social taboo behind and work as a domestic help. With the earnings of the two, my family managed to survive in my absence,” he said.

Zakir said he had never imagined that his wife would have to work as a domestic help. “But what else she could do? I do not have any rich relative who could help; my parents were not able to help my family, too.”

Apart from giving the order to free Zakir from jail, the HC bench on Tuesday also directed three police officers, accused of the wrongdoing, to jointly pay him Tk 20 lakh in compensation. The money has to be handed over to the victim in six months.

Asked about the compensation, Zakir yesterday said he would buy a piece of land and try starting some venture with the remaining money to meet the family expenses.

On November 23, 1996, a Narayanganj court had tried one Zakir in absentia and sentenced him to life for killing Vickchan Mia of Narsingdi on November 11, 1991. Vickchan was mugged and killed in Narayanganj.

On June 21 this year, based on a Bangla daily’s report, the HC bench issued a rule asking the officers concerned to explain why the imprisonment of Zakir should not be declared illegal. It also ordered officials concerned to submit the case documents and probe reports.

After several hearings, when Zakir was also produced at the HC, and scrutinising probe reports of the home ministry and the police, the court ordered his release.