The killing of a man in Lalmonirhat has yet again placed the issue at the centre of public attention
As many as 625 people became victims of mob lynching in the last eight years in Bangladesh, with experts blaming the absence of speedy investigations and trials, lack of proper education and a sense of entitlement behind such heinous acts.
The mob lynching of Abu Yunus Md Shahidunnabi Jewel in Lalmonirhat on Thursday, over alleged desecration of the Quran, has once again placed the issue at the centre of public attention.
According to the rights organization Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), 30 people fell victim to mob lynching in different areas of the country till September this year.
In 2019, 65 people were beaten to death by mobs. The number was 39 in 2018, 50 in 2017, 51 in 2016, 135 in 2015, 127 in 2014, and 128 in 2013.
Even though the number of such incidents has come down in the last few years, it is still alarmingly high.
Last year, a violent mob brutally beat a woman called Renu Begum to death as they suspected her of being a child abductor. The video of the incident went viral on social media and showed the world how horrific a mob lynching could be.
Impunity behind mob-beating culture
Social experts are of the opinion that ensuring swift trials, providing proper education, and the local government intervention can help reduce incidents of mob lynching in the country.
“The idea that a person can be beaten to death if he commits a wrong — it has been deeply ingrained in the minds of the people of Bangladesh,” rights defender Sheepa Hafiza told Dhaka Tribune.
“For years, people have been beating thieves and pickpockets to a pulp because they feel entitled to do so. The Lalmonirhat incident is yet another glaring example of that,” she said.
Many people think that they will not be held accountable if they beat someone up for hurting religious sentiments, according to the former executive director of ASK.
“Education and development have become very economy-centric in our society. We do not put an ounce of effort into teaching our communities about compassion, the need to follow the law, tolerance or religious harmony,” she added.
Local governments should play a more effective role to curb mob violence within their communities, said Shipra.
Imtiaz Ahmed, professor at the Department of International Relations of Dhaka University, said: “People are too quick to jump to the conclusion that mob lynching only happens due to a lack of good governance. But mob lynching happens in countries like the United States as well.”
He said police needed to complete their investigations in such cases as soon as possible to figure out what prompted mobs to opt for the kind of violence that led to the death of a person.
“There are often issues like land disputes and political rivalry. Perpetrators often mobilize people of the community to beat someone to death by spreading rumours for their personal gain or as an act of vengeance,” he told this correspondent.
He noted that it was very easy to mobilize people by spreading rumours that somebody had disrespected the Quran or had hurt religious sentiments.
“People need to be educated on the teachings of Islam; it does not allow murder,” said Imtiaz Ahmed.