Bangladesh
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‘What was my son’s fault?’

Khaleda Akter cannot keep herself from repeating "What was my son's fault?" as she has been haunted by it herself since her son Raihan Hossain Ruman was killed in a clash between BNP and Awami League in Chattogram's Mirsharai on Friday evening.

Though she remains inconsolable and her questions unanswered, she continues asking, "My son was not involved in politics, why did they kill him? What was his fault? Why did they take him away from me?"

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After losing her husband a decade ago, Khaleda sent her 15-year-old son to her parent's home so that he could continue his studies for a good future.

"That future is lost now," she whispered hopelessly.

Ruman died after being caught up in a clash between AL and BNP activists in Azampur Bazar in the upazila.

His maternal uncle Yunus Nabi runs a small tea stall in the bazar and his grandfather Abul Kalam, 70, who was taking care of him, was there when the clash broke out.

Kalam said, "My grandchild was standing in front of the stall with a friend when the clash ensued between the activists of two parties … I asked Yunus to close the shutters and call Ruman inside."

Yunus said as Ruman did not come, they looked for him after the clash ended.

"We were searching for him when some locals found him senseless in a nearby pond. We rushed him to the upazila health complex … We could not save him."

Yunus reiterated that his nephew was not involved in politics. "He was a very innocent boy…."

Meanwhile, four people were arrested in connection with Ruman's killing.

Although police did not disclose their names, local BNP sources claimed that all the arrestees were the activists of their party.

Monirul Islam, assistant superintendent of police (Mirsharai circle) of Chattogram, said Ruman's mother Khaleda filed a case with Jorarganj Police Station yesterday afternoon mentioning the names of 15 people, including Chattogram North District BNP Joint Convener Nurul Amin, and some 60 unnamed people.

"Police arrested four of the named accused. However, the prime accused Nurul Amin is absconding."

Though family members and police said Ruman was just a bystander, both upazila BNP and AL activists alleged he was "their supporter" and blamed each other for his death.

Jahangir Kabir, president of Mirsharai AL, claimed Ruman was one of their men and blamed BNP for his death.

"BNP men, without any provocation, attacked AL and Chhatra League activists who were in the bazar … They hit the boy [Ruman] on the head and drowned him in the pond."

On the other hand, Sayeed Chowdhury, convener of Mirsharai BNP, claimed Ruman was a BNP supporter.

"Awami League men drowned him in the pond."

He further alleged that BNP had organised a rally in the bazar as part of preparation for its upcoming road march.

"When BNP activists were returning home after the rally, AL and BCL activists launched the attack."