FAISALABAD: Swiftly wiping off a tear, sixth grader Shahzaib Nadeem sits in a corner of his school campus.
It is his first day of school —Millat Grammar School has finally reopened after the tragic incident at Kallar Kahar when at least 37 people died in the horrendous accident as the bus carrying children overturned on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway.
Shahzaib sits hollow-eyed. The milieu across the campus seems eerily melancholy.
“In class, I used to sit next to Hamza Mehmood and Zohaib Ali,” he whispers.
“That day on the trip, they were both sitting next to me. We were lost in our own world enjoying and singing with joy. A second later, everything changed. There was a pool of blood with bodies of my friends in it,” his lips quiver.
“My shirt was soaked in blood and I could hear a cacophony of shrieks and sobs,” the young boy recalls.
“I could see their wounds. Hamza and Zohaib … we lost them … I could see their wounds, bleeding … ,” without completing his sentence, he runs off, almost as if trying to get rid of those bitter memories.
The attendance is slim today (Monday).
The school had been sealed and its registration was cancelled by the city district government administration following two inquiries which found the school’s administration responsible for the tragic accident.
However, on Saturday, at a joint meeting of the city district government, district administration, education department, police and other functionaries including more than 500 parents it was decided to reopen the school.
The Punjab government has formally allowed the district administration to register a criminal case against the school’s principal/owner Professor Shafiq Anwar on charges of negligence.
Faisalabad District Coordination Officer Naseem Sadiq says that the case will be registered in Millat Town Police Station of Faisalabad in light of the recommendations of two inquiry teams. He adds that after the registration of a criminal case, within the next 24 hours, the principal will be taken into custody.
Anwar is already in police custody since the last 48 hours. However, no formal arrest has been made because no official case had not been registered against him.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2011.