Dr Shah Alam was murdered by a gang of robbers on October 17 while returning to his Chattogram residence from the clinic
With her three-year-old baby girl Shamsunnahar, from Sitakunda's Barabkunda, went to the Baby Care Clinic in Kumira for her daughter's follow-up, to find the treatment facility closed.
She came to know from a pharmacy owner at the Mini Super Market that a gang of robbers had killed Dr Shah Alam, who established the clinic on the first floor of the market.
Shamsunnahar was shocked. She could not believe that someone like Dr Shah Alam, who treated numerous patients in the area, including her daughter, for free, could be murdered.
She failed to hold back her tears. After standing in front of the clinic for a while she left for home.
Shamsunnahar is not alone in feeling this way. A large number of patients still crowd the Baby Care Clinic for treatment every day. After receiving the news of Dr Shah Alam's murder, they shed tears.
When still a student at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital Dr Shah Alam made a firm commitment to his father that he would serve the poor of his community after becoming a doctor. He was so committed to that promise that even while practising as a paediatrician in Saudi Arabia he used to provide villagers with free treatment whenever he visited Bangladesh.
At one point, without completing the tenure of his job in Saudi Arabia, Dr Shah Alam returned home and established the baby care clinic in his village. He did not take any fee from most of his patients.
But his noble work could not sustain for long as a gang of robbers killed him while he was going to his Chattogram residence from the clinic, on a human hauler, on the night of October 17.
Visiting the clinic on October 28, this correspondent found the well-furnished treatment facility closed. Everything, from the reception room, waiting area, the doctor's chambers and ECG room was as it usually is. Everything was visible from the outside through the transparent windows. Two pairs of brown shoes and sandals Dr Shah Alam wore were lying near the entrance.
"My seven-year-old son took treatment from Dr Shah Alam. He did not take any fee from me as I am a poor person. We, in no way, can accept the news of his death. We cannot hold back our tears whenever we look at the clinic," said Bashir Uddin, a rickshaw-van puller, standing in front of the clinic.
Shyamal Kanti Das, a trader at the market, said though Shah Alam was a paediatrician he never sent back any villager of any age without treatment.
"I came down fever two months ago. I was treated by him. But he did not take any fees," Shyamal added.
He further said Shah Alam also helped the poor in his village in resolving various problems.
Alauddin Mahbub, a shopkeeper at the market, said, "he was a very sincere doctor. There are hardly any friendly doctors like him available today. All the people in the area have been affected by his death."
Shamsul Alam, elder brother of Dr Shah Alam, said, "When he got admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, our father, a teacher, made him promise that he would serve the people of the village after becoming a physician. To keep that promise, he established the baby Care Clinic even before completing his work in Saudi Arabia."
He further said Shah Alam had served at a hospital in Medina as a paediatrician for about 30 years. He used to visit Bangladesh every year on a one and a half months leave.
"During his stay here, he used to provide villagers with free treatment. But everything has been lost now," Shamsul broke down in tears.
Md Izar Uddin, the caretaker of the clinic and a nephew of Dr Shah Alam, said the clinic has been closed since the murder of his uncle. "Now I weep near the entrance of the clinic where I once spent a very busy day from morning to evening."
He said, "Every day patients come for treatment. Many still do not know that robbers have killed my uncle. They also shed tears at the news of my uncle's death."
On the night of October 17, Dr Shah Alam was going to his Chattogram residence from the clinic on a human hauler. A gang of robbers travelling on the same vehicle killed him and dumped his body. The next morning police recovered the body from a bypass road in the Kumira Ghatgarh area.
On October 19, Alam's wife Ajmeri Shikder Kanta filed a case with the Sitakunda Police Station in Chattogram against several unknown accused.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested leguna driver Omar Faruk. In a confessional statement before a magistrate's court on October 22, Faruk admitted to his involvement in the killing.
Najir Uddin Ahmed Suman alias Kalu, the leader of the gang that killed Dr Shah Alam, was killed in a shootout with RAB members in Banshbaria area of Sitakunda in the early morning of October 23.