By Nadeem Qadir;
Who would head in the direction where danger is imminent? But Bengalis have done that many times in our national history. The latest are the few who risked their lives to go to China to save the lives of other Bangladeshis who were desperate to leave in fear of deadly coronavirus.
They are our newest heroes, but have remained out of public eye, but on this day of national pride they spoke with this writer about their challenges and commitment to the humanity. Due to company rules they cannot be identified.
“Of course there was fear and we were nervous … going to the core of the coronavirus,” said one crew member of the only flight of the national flag carrier Biman which was sent to evacuate Bangladeshis from China.
He said initially his family was against his pan to volunteer to join the flight, but gradually it they agreed to let him go.
“Every ones fate is in the hands of Allah and this mission is to save fellow humans,” the crew member said, adding that besides “I believe I do a job and it carries some responsibilities and I responded.”
The Biman crew members followed the World Health Organisation guidelines to protect themselves from the coronavirus and all of them wore special suits supplied by the authorities.
“Once we landed back in Dhaka with the evacuees it was a kind of joy of saving lives … there were children too,” the crew member said, adding they would all go back to work after the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Biman crew members had refused to work on the flight but a group had volunteered and evacuated 312 people, mostly students, from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak,
But no second flight could be sent due to refusal of crew members as Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told reporters last week that “No crew wants to go there. Those who went in the first flight have also refused to go.”
On the other hand, the private US Bangla Airlines continue to operate flights between Dhaka and Beijing, although with lesser number of three operations daily.
“Our crew members are flying despite risks, but they are well protected by gears to stay safe from the virus plus everyone is disinfected by a medicine brought from Japan,” Sikder Mesbahuddin Ahmed, the airline’s Executive Advisor, told this correspondent.
He added the company decided to continue to operate China flights as a humanitarian gesture, especially for the Bangladeshis desperate to leave China.
The US Bangla official felt that those coming home by these aircrafts would remember this risky gesture and would possibly become their permanent clients “We are making a loss on the route and thus it is not money we are looking at this crisis time,” he pointed out. Thus 2020 would be the year in our national history.