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An unacceptable norm

  • Published at 11:55 pm June 14th, 2019
Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN
Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

Is barbarism on the rise in our society?

A sudden sadness has shrouded my mind. 

After the murder of Feni madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a few similar incidences have taken place at some places. Nothing could be more barbaric than to set a person on fire.  

Another female student was set on fire. The latest attempt to murder was even more barbaric than Rafi. Her murder had ignited protests from across the country, but hardly anyone has noticed the latest incident. A female school student in Rajbari was returning home after school. A group of people, in a very planned way, led her to a jungle and took some photos. Then they started blackmailing the student and her family, demanding Tk200,000. Failing to provide the money, the criminals threatened to release the photos on social media. One Shilpee Begum was reported to have led this gang.

They failed to extort money from the family. One day, two veiled persons came and took the student to a jute plantation. They tied her with a scarf, soaked her body in kerosene, and set fire to her body. The student, however, was able to save herself by rolling over on the ground. 

The extortionists, trying to kill people if not paid, cannot be in any way acceptable. There is no option but to identify the criminals and bring them to justice. Burning someone to death cannot be a norm in civilized society.

In another incident a few days ago, a woman’s in-laws in Mymensingh poured kerosene on her body and tried to set her on fire. They demanded dowry from the woman’s family. The woman, Shirin Akhter, is now struggling to survive at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College. Incidents of torturing women are not new in Bangladesh, but trying to murder someone by burning someone has crossed all limits of barbarism. This is simply animalistic.

The murderers should be given exemplary punishment; otherwise, this trend will be on the rise in society. This type of criminal action can only be reduced if the victim or their families are ensured justice by the state.

However, it’s a matter of hope that a court case has been filed against four alleged criminals, including Shilpee Begum in the Rajbari incidence. Now, the task is to arrest them as soon as possible and bring them to trial. 

In the case of Rafi, the police had tried to protect the perpetrators. We hope the same thing doesn’t repeat in the Rajbari incidence. If the police, local administration, and the state work together to contain such heinous crimes, we can hope to see some change in society.

Trying to burn people to death may not be the end of our barbaric nature. We are receiving news reports that passengers on public transport are being pushed out of running vehicles.

Recently, a few such incidents have caught the public eye. In some of the cases, the passengers died. We should be well aware of what could happen if someone is pushed out of a running bus. A transport worker should also know the consequences of such an action. Despite that, incidents such as these are taking place on a regular basis. The reason that these are recurring is because the criminals are not being punished.

The report of the pushing of a sick passenger named Salahuddin out of a bus on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Gazipur has shocked us. The passenger was run over by another bus. This was a consequence of a dispute related to the bus fare. The report also said that Salahuddin was physically assaulted before he was pushed out of the vehicle. 

This incident shows how helpless the passengers are on public transport. No matter how serious the dispute is inside the vehicle, the transport worker cannot be allowed to assault passengers and push them out. What were the other passengers doing?

These incidents reveal the audacious nature of public transport workers and their management. Providing transportation is a service in exchange of money. Disputes over fares may arise in a society like ours -- that doesn’t mean the passengers should be assaulted and killed!

These two trends show that intolerance and barbarism are on the rise in our society. If we fail to contain this, it is certain that we’re heading towards an unfortunate society meant to perish in the black hole of history. We urge the government to contain these kinds of crimes with sincerity.

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His works can be found on ekramkabir.com.