To instigate mob violence -- especially against minorities -- is a crime of the utmost seriousness
We strongly condemn the incident that broke out in Bhola on Sunday, where at least four people were killed and several others injured.
However, this incident -- which essentially began over an individual’s hacked Facebook account -- is an ugly reminder that there are those within our society who would like nothing more than to foment hatred and incite violence, and of the dangers that can arise from mob mentality.
Indeed, the government deserves praise for handling this most obviously difficult situation to the best of their abilities -- such incidents have the possibility to spiral out of control, as they usually do, and it was important for the authorities concerned to do what was necessary to nip this in the bud and prevent the situation from escalating any further.
To that end, there is also no other alternative but to tackle these situations with a zero tolerance approach -- instigators of hate and violence must be brought to book and punished to the full extent of the law.
What must also be remembered is that, while instigators have no place in our society, those who are influenced by their actions and resort to violent and hateful behaviour without full knowledge of a situation, are also culpable for their actions.
It does not matter what you think someone else may have said or written (and in this instance, as is almost always the case, the accused did not even write the words he was charged with), there is never any excuse for resorting to mob violence. This is especially true when the target of the mob is a minority.
As such, it was reassuring to hear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s stern words that those trying to take advantage of the Bhola incident would be punished.
This is the message that must be sent to anyone looking to stir up trouble using such potentially catastrophic tactics: To instigate mob violence -- especially against minorities -- is a crime of the utmost seriousness, and will be dealt with with the utmost severity.
We have made a lot of progress when it comes to both when it comes to dealing with mindless violence and keeping the peace in our country, as well as when it comes to protecting minorities and ensuring inter-communal harmony, and we cannot allow incidents such as that in Bhola to drag us back to the dark days of our past. Conflagrations such as we saw in Bhola threaten to destabilize all the progress we have made as a country, and cannot be tolerated or accepted.
The government and our law enforcement have showed that they understand the gravity of the matter.
There is no question that the loss of four lives is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families of the dead.
But make no mistake about it, the ultimate blame and culpability for the deaths lies with those who instigated and led the mob in the first place.