On December 9, 2012, the major parties in opposition held a general strike expressing their displeasure with the proceedings in the case against the war criminals of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, and pretty much everything else. As is the political tradition in this country, when one party “parties” the other has to do it as well.
So while the strike was underway, there were gangs allied to the ruling faction’s student wing roaming the streets and there were occasional, small clashes. In the midst of a generally event-free (not really but it wasn’t wild) strike, there were a few clashes occurring throughout the city. In the section of Dhaka referred to as Old Dhaka, a small explosive (rather large firecracker, from what I heard on TV) went off. A few seconds later, there was a ruckus as several guys, armed with sharp objects and sticks, chased another guy. The one being chased was all bloody on his right. With the camera trained on the murder in progress, the scene was horrific, a few hits from the sticks landing on his back. As he ran from the attackers, he went and tried to take shelter in a clinic. There his attackers had him cornered, and with the camera pointed at them (seemingly oblivious to it), some of the attackers went in, and savagely attacked him. The one who was attacked, was helped by a rickshaw puller to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The post-mortem report found that death was due to cardiac arrest caused by blood loss due to a stab wound in the back. Must’ve been a really deep wound if there was that much of blood loss.
So the one who was brutally attacked was identified as a 24 year old tailoring shop worker named Biswajit Das, no more, no less. The attackers were identified as students of Jahangirnagar University belonging to the student wing, Chhatra League, of the ruling party, Awami League. The student wing quickly issued a statement denying any of them were in the party and were expelled for various reasons.
But that is not the point. The point is very simple – “What kind of monsters is this society breeding?”
Before I go ranting about the obvious kind here, I should clarify there are four types here. Oh you thought there was one? Two at most? Sorry ’bout the sucker punch but here goes.
So let the countdown begin.
- Those committing the disgusting hacking of an innocent man. Why were they doing it? That is anyone’s guess really. I have read one of the country’s leading citizens, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, who in an article wrote that many are promised top posts in the political parties and other benefits for displaying loyalty. Acceptable methods of displaying loyalty are left open-ended and all this could be my idle hunch, but that is a fairly minor point. One needs to stop and wonder where did they even get the idea that the preclusion of explicitly stated “acceptable methods”, or even the inclusion of explicitly stated methods, includes crime, an abhorrent public lynching no less, and any crime at all?
- The news reporters. Agreed, they had the choice between capturing the story and getting killed. I’d put them in the half not guilty category. (Not guilty category, not the guilty category. See what I did there?)
- The bystanders. No one thought of whacking them on the head with a fat frying pan or coming up with some way or the other to stop them? I’ll put them in the half guilty category.
- The powers that be who carry the weight of the responsibility of protecting all citizenry and are bestowed with all associated rights. Atleast as guilty as the killers, but they are also responsible for destroying society, hence maybe even more guilty. Amazingly, the government PR machine went into a FUD hyper-drive with all sorts of statements that, either, muddled the identity of the killers or disowned the killers. Why FUD? Here I will translate and quote, and make my own additions as well to, Zafar Iqbal’s writing on the same topic (the article, in Bengali):
- The police filed a case for murder accusing “unidentified attackers” although the exact identity of all those involved was known to everyone with access to print or visual media.
- State Minister for Home Affairs declared all suspects arrested; media showed that the arrested were not even remotely similar to the ones caught committing the murder on camera.
- Seeing the first attempt fail, everyone resorted to putting out statements the killers were in no way affiliated to the ruling party or the student wing.
- The most amazing piece of news (a new one for me) comes from the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, who boldly stated what no man had publicly uttered till then, that the accused are all affiliated to the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Chhatro Shibir. Amazing lie! Proof? Their family members are involved with JI! Your father is a thief, so are you! (I’d love to see that argument hold water in ANY court of law.)
The fourth type, the ones with the primary task of protecting the people, enforcing laws and meting out measured justice to those flouting laws and rules, are most likely the most guilty of all. Even more than the ones who did the machete-swinging. For if they had performed their duties rightfully, then this ugly incident would never have happened. Come to think of it, alot of criminal and anti-social activities would come to a stop. If only the political parties would stop cultivating “future leaders”. The cultivation process seems to include a blanket protection from any and all legal troubles, in the guise of protection from legal harassment. Unfortunately, or maybe even by plan, this emboldens the “future leaders” so they commit all kinds of crime. With almost nothing to lose, why would anyone behave themselves? I say this could be by plan because only this way can the future leaders (read: mindless drones) be desensitised to committing gross injustices that would benefit the top brass in the party or just the party in general (What’s the difference between a religious extremist and a political one? Only their notion of God/god.).
This is not a sleight at the government as much as it is almost entirely at the people. The government is manned by the people of this country and reflects their thoughts and values, which are learned from the society they are a part of. So what kind of society are we living in that champions the growth and development of the most pathetic excuse of human beings? Who go on to make everyone suffer for their lack of morals and decency?
I say champions as a way of saying everyone wants that this kind of person be bred here. The emphasis is always on reaching the top, even if it means you must step on a few toes on the way, or break a few necks. It is the end in sight that is the aim here, the means to get to the aim is pretty immaterial, or ignored even, when the person undergoes a “transformation” after getting there.
It is this greed of people that they want to protect and preserve, hence the many justifications they provide, and are teaching to others. Incidents like this are only the physical manifestation of the things that people believe in and are preaching. A minority? That makes a big noise? Because of media? Not very convinced. And the reason is that just as the surface of the Earth looks very cool (temperature-wise) and habitable, what lies underneath is far from what is on surface; society is very much the same. It can be very turbulent underneath. As opposed to the Earth, the turbulent undercurrents are within human control. It is the unwillingness, amplifying the inability, of the people to tame the monsters that are leading this society, and the country, into barbarity.