Five-year-old Imam looked lost. He had been brought to this large congregation of people in the capital's Shahbagh, but for what reason, his mind wondered.
It's been almost three years since he last saw his father. Was he here? Imam didn't know- and he didn't wonder it out loud.
"My little son is growing up. When he sees someone's father, he must ask about his own. I can't explain the pain I feel when I think of that," said Nasreen, Imam's mother.
There were many children at the gathering on Tuesday. All of them were from broken homes, except this cohort.
They were different; no parent had walked out on them. Their parents were taken.
In Imam's case, his father Ismail Hossain, a wood trader in Mirpur, went missing in June 2019.
After that, his mother, with the little one in tow, seeked support at various law enforcement agencies and did not receive any assistance.
Apart from losing a father and a husband, the family had also lost their sole bread-winner.
"I do some private tuition. But that isn't enough. When will he come back? Or will the wait never end?" Nasreen asked.
The emotions came to the fore at the gathering organised by Maayer Daak on the Enforced Disappearance Day. Anisha Islam, Nasreen's daughter, spoke at the event, directly addressing the prime minister.
"You lost your father, so you are not judging us for losing ours. You can pray for your father, but I cannot pray for mine. I don't know whether my father is alive or dead. I can't pray, so I only cry," she said.
At least 40 families like Anisha's gathered in front of the National Museum in Shahbagh.
There were endless cases. An 11-year-old waiting for her father. Another, whose father was a BCL leader, taken since 2013, during a drive by law enforcement agencies.
They had all heard of infamous black rooms spread around the capital which needed to be investigated.
Tabith Awal, a member of BNP's international relations committee, expressed solidarity with Maayer Daak. He said the government had to answer where the missing family members were.
Noor Khan Liton, executive director of the Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), said, "Talk to those who have returned. Those involved in running the secret prisons should be identified and brought to justice. For this, an independent and impartial investigation commission should be formed immediately."
He said the statements of the victims' families made it clear that law enforcers were involved in most of the disappearances.
Mahmudur Rahman Manna, president of the Nagorika Oikya said, "I stayed for about 40 hours at the place where the missing people were taken. I know what they are like. Those centres should be closed. We have to continue the movement."
Sanjida Islam Tuli, convenor of Maayer Daak, said, "I hope everyone will come back like Imam Mahadi Hasan Dolar, a fish farming expert, who came back to his family after about nine-and-a-half months of disappearance."
Meanwhile, the human rights organisation ASK has demanded the government to form an impartial commission to investigate the allegations of disappearances and the signing of the International Charter against Disappearances.
In a press release, it said the Bangladesh government has repeatedly denied the cases of enforced disappearances at the national and international level. However, at various times, clear allegations of disappearance have emerged in the accounts of family, relatives or eyewitnesses, in the search of information by journalists or human rights organisations. In several cases, the missing were shown as arrested.
The ASK said 28 people have gone missing between 2019-2022. Of them, 12 were later shown arrested and 5 returned. The rest are still missing.
In this context, on the International Day Against Disappearance or Enforced Disappearance on August 30, the ASK made several demands to the Bangladesh government and the National Human Rights Commission, including finding all the missing persons who are victims of disappearance and returning them to their families.
In another human chain organised at the Chittagong Press Club premises on Tuesday, speakers complained that even after years, they could not find any trace of their relatives.
They said, disappearance is a crime against humanity.