He will be spoken of as just another faceless, misguided youth who tried to do something extremely stupid before even getting to be old enough to know what’s whatThere are many others out there, brainwashed into a similar manner of thinking. And these confused, hurt, angry young men (and I use the word men as opposed to people, because, let’s face it, how many women militants can you really think of?) aren’t away in some shady lair doing bad things in another world. They’re here, very much a part of this country. They grow somewhere inside our own rotting value system, in a place where critical thinking is not allowed, in a society where extremists are pacified at every turn.
*****As I write this, I look out the window at my desk, and I can see the exact spot where the suicide bomber’s dead body lay. An entire wall is gone, and bricks and debris lie strewn across the footpath. The cleanup job seems to have been decent, and the substantial amount of rubble no longer seems to be blocking the main road. However, an AC still precariously dangles from the building, threatening to fall on a pedestrian. A green sign of Hotel Olio, proclaiming something about honesty and courage bringing success, once part of the third floor, lies shattered on the footpath. It looks almost symbolic. Olio now looks like someone, well, blew themselves up. But traffic on Panthapath, both on foot and on the road, seems almost normal. Life goes on, and that’s a good thing.
*****If Saiful could see the aftermath right now, he would probably be utterly disappointed by the general response to his work. No one is singing his praises. His name will not be etched in the list of great martyrs. He will be spoken of as just another faceless, misguided youth who tried to do something extremely stupid before even getting to be old enough to know what’s what. But looking at this sad sight, will all other Saiful-wannabes wise up? Will they realise that they have been brainwashed into playing a game where nobody wins? Ever since Holey, we have been talking about the serious need to stop militancy at the source, to make sure more young people don’t fall prey to militant bosses who use young people as pawns in their game of death. To be fair, several successful raids have been conducted, and many lives have been saved. Operation August Bite was a triumph of law enforcement, and the brave men and women behind the operation deserve our heartfelt thanks. A militant was successfully taken out, and a tragedy was averted. But a bigger question remains -- how many more such raids will we need? When it comes to really rooting out the belief system behind militancy, how much progress have we made since Holey? As one battle gets fought with good intelligence, timely action, and well-executed raids, another should be waged on the social and cultural level, to educate young people, to make it clear that terrorism is not a viable career option, and that there is no glory whatsoever in blowing yourself up. Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.