On the afternoon of April 12, 30-year-old Bushra stood by the railway tracks with her two children, Zubair, 5, and Saima, 3. They were standing so close to the tracks that the nearby shopkeepers and a rickshaw driver called to her to move away. When Jaffer Express approached she jumped in front of the train, pulling her children with her. The train tore their bodies to pieces. The police would have closed the case as being the result of some household quarrel. But they found a written note on Bushra which stated that she was ending their lives because of the family’s poverty.
They lived in a rented house with her husband, Ramzan, who had been a welder earning Rs5,000 a month. She was educated up to 8th grade and wanted her children to receive education, but poverty had forced her to remove them from school. To save face in the neighbourhood, she pretended to take the children to school every day but left them at their aunt’s home, picking them up from there at the school’s closing time. Meanwhile, it was difficult for her to feed her children.
I hope news of the tragedy reached all those who keep saying that the country is flourishing and poverty has been reduced. A similar event took place in Lahore sometime ago, when a desperate father put up an ad for the sale of one of his children. Another father put up his kidney for sale. Recently a woman from Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s city of Multan paraded her five children around with “For Sale ” signs hanging from their necks.
Meanwhile the rulers’ personal expenditures at the cost of the exchequer are growing. When President Pervez Musharaf visited the UK he took along an army of ministers and advisers. The British government refused to be host to such a large retinue. So they booked a whole floor in a luxury hotel. The royal suite in which Mr President stayed cost an estimated Rs2,000,000 a night, and the visitors stayed for three days there. Billions are being spent on the import of bullet-proof vehicles for the rulers. As for “Parha-likkha Punjab,” huge funds were utilised to run the campaign, but the deaths of Bushra, Zubair and Saima–the children’s schoolbags were found near their bodies–exposed the hollowness of its advertisements.
A government is supposed to be the guardian of the people. But what kind of guardians do we have when the wards commit suicide or sell their children or kidneys, while the rulers spend Rs2,000,000 on a night’s rest?
I was in Lahore that day and wanted to participate in the funeral of that unfortunate woman and her children, but could not because my stay in the city was only for a day. The prime minister paid a visit to Bushra’s home and gave a cheque of Rs200,000 to her father. He refused to take it, saying that now that his daughter and grandchildren were no longer alive he had no use for the money. In any case, it was a meagre compensation for three human lives. Had Bushra lost her life during a suicide bombing, she alone would have received Rs500,000. Her father requested the prime minister to make efforts to eradicate poverty and inflation from the country so that no more Bushras and their children were forced to kill themselves.
Who is responsible for the deaths of Bushra and her two children? Is it the senseless society which never helped them? Or is it the policies of the rulers and their lavish spending which increase poverty in the country? In the past, there were individual suicides but now people are taking to joint suicides with their children. Or is it Bushra to be blamed, for being born in a country where people are poor but rulers are enormously rich?
Courtesy: The News, 14/5/2008