According to data from Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), some 30 lynching incidents took place in the first nine months of this year
Bangladesh has been witnessing a disturbing rise in mob lynching incidents in the recent times, sparking concerns from rights activists regarding a sudden rise in lawlessness in the country.
Agitated mobs continue to torture and lynch both petty criminals or innocent people on suspicion of committing crimes on different occasions without even verifying their identities first, mostly because such brutal acts of group vigilantism go unpunished.
Consequently, many innocent people fall victim to mob killings.
According to data from Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), some 30 lynching incidents took place in the first nine months of this year.
Data compiled by rights groups say at least 885 people were killed in mob beating across the country from 2011 to September this year.
Deaths from mob beatings first came to light in Bangladesh on July 17, 2011, when six students were killed on the night of Shab-e-Barat in Borodeshi village near Aminbazar in Savar of Dhaka.
Of the 885 victims, 134 people were killed in 2011, 126 in 2012, 128 in 2013, 127 in 2014, 135 in 2015, and 51 in 2016, 50 in 2017, 39 in 2018, and 65 in 2019.
Although the number of deaths from the lybching incidents declined in comparison with the previous years, still the number is highly alarming, according to experts.
Very recently, on October 29, Abu Younus Muhammad Shahidunnabi Jewel was beaten and his dead body set on fire by an angry mob in Lalmonirhat on rumours of demeaning the Holy Quran.
Experts say the tendency of taking the law into one’s own hand has been on the rise due to a lack of respect towards the law, law enforcement agencies and the country’s judiciary.
Rights activists also complained that a death from a mob beating is always considered as an “isolated incident,” and its perpetrators also remain unidentified in most cases, let alone bringing them to book.
They also alleged there were cases where some law enforcement officials, in exchange for money, portrayed a murder as an incident of mob lynching as such cases rarely see trial.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Kazi Reazul Haque, former chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said: “People cannot take law into their own hands, because there are strong laws in place to punish people if he or she commits any crimes.
“It is a crime for a mob to beat a person to death, even if that person has been identified as a criminal. The peoples’ responsibility is to hand over criminals to law enforcement agencies and then, the court will punish them as per the law.”
“It was mandatory to investigate all mob beating incidents as no one had the right to take the law into their own hands,” he said.
“People are becoming accused in murder cases by taking part in mob beatings just for paying heed to rumours, so there is a need for massive social awareness against the mob beatings,” he added.
“In some cases, a section of people also use rumours to instigate people to lynch a his or her enemy to death,” he added.
The former NHRC chief also said: “The law enforcement agencies should find out the reason for every incident and ensure punishment while a massive campaign is needed to prevent recurrences of such incidents.”
Human rights campaigners told Dhaka Tribune that although law enforcement is responsible for barring people from becoming vigilantes, security forces often do not intervene in such situations and fail to protect lives.
They also expressed fear that the crisis is likely to worsen in future if the government does not take drastic steps to bring the lynch mobs to justice.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) former executive director Sheepa Hafiza said: “The incidents of killing by mobs are occurring due to the lack of enforcing the law properly and ensuring rule of law in the country.
“Agitated and frustrated people often take law into their own hands with the perception that they would not get justice from the course of law. Many believe that those with power would remain above the law.”
Apart from this, a section of people are also involved with such incidents to portray a negative image of the country’s law and order situation, added Hafiza.