It all boils down to the pink menace
CCTV is certainly a blessing for law enforcement agents because it shows a crime spot as it actually was. Videotapes provide irrefutable proof of an unlawful act being committed, and what is more, it helps in understanding the subtle nuances of an episode.
Take the Rifat killing in Borguna for instance. Try to imagine the crime being reported without the aid of CCTV footage.
In that case, we would have to rely on mere statements by witnesses, and the mobile phone recordings taken during the latter part of the beating of Rifat by Nayan and his cohorts. Note the word “latter part of the beating” here.
But what happened in the moments leading to the beating plus the subsequent hacking provide chilling and unsettling clues to the whole incident.
The footage that appeared much later
Initially, the recording that went viral and triggered mass outrage -- it showed the hacking scene, where the wife of Rifat was trying to ward off attackers with the victim desperately trying to block the hacking with a plastic bag.
This incident plus the narratives, which came soon after Rifat died in hospital, made many believe that the man who had married a local girl, Ayesha, was a target of Nayan, a known degenerate because the latter also liked his wife and pestered her.
Soon after the first video emerged, there were hints made by many on social media that the wife in question might have had some link or association with the killer. This triggered a social media storm in support of the girl with many saying that it’s common practice for several sections of society to vilify a woman.
Now, what does the CCTV footage, which appeared later, tells us? The footage, which is going viral, begins several minutes before the incident actually started. It shows a calm street, where Rifat and his wife are captured on the road in front of Borguna College. Rifat is seen heading towards the bike while the actions of the wife are a bit puzzling. She seems unwilling to go and heads back towards the college.
What appears to be time-wasting, several young men arrive, and surround Rifat. At one point, the victim is forcefully taken down the road, and the footage shows the wife calmly walking behind the group without offering any protest.
The wife only began to protest when the sharp objects were drawn.
The emergence of this footage throws new light on the whole incident, which was so far being presented, and interpreted as a sexual harassment case, taken to the extreme by a criminal who was also an addict.
The sordid tales behind the crime
Soon, a variety of sordid details started to come out on social media. I am not going to point fingers at anyone or endorse sleazy explanations that are proliferating; however, I will say that the Rifat killing has several profoundly murky angles, which point to an insidious decay, afflicting social ethos.
Reportedly, Rifat was also a member of Nayan’s group and involved in yaba-selling operations in the past. As for the wife, there seems to be plenty of evidence to suggest that she was very close to the killer with several TV reports showing the statement of a kazi, contending that he had solemnized the marriage between Ayesha and Nayan in 2018.
There is also a suggestion that the wife used to take yaba which was the cause of contention between the couple. How much of these facts is true, I cannot say but what is disconcerting is the kind of sleaze that continues to come out form this incident.
The actual hacking is no longer in the news because the background seems to have too many seedy angles. Reminds us of the late 80s sensational Khuku-Monir case where Monir killed his wife because of his clandestine affair with Khuku.
Worryingly, the pervasive drug yaba is also found to be a key element in this incident and since Nayan, the killer, was a known drug peddler with protection, no one on the road went to save Rifat when he was being hacked.
This goes to show how the yaba trade has created a breed of criminals in district towns who are feared because they have powerful men from behind the scenes protecting them.
Interestingly, in the current obsession with salacious details about the wife, the victim, and the killer, the talk about the patrons of Nayan have been sidelined.
But maybe identifying the true backers of Nayan is much more important here.
Are we being distracted from the more important facts? Perhaps this is to cater to the voyeuristic tendencies of people.
Since new CCTV footage has emerged with many accounts in circulation, maybe the authorities should hold a press conference, and reveal some of the facts related to the killing.
We need to acknowledge that, under the veneer of normalcy, a pervasive decay of values is being carried out, not only in the cities but also in rural Bangladesh.
This is essential because, once we know the truth, countering the rise of decadent behaviour will be possible.
The Rifat killing, the video footages, the accounts of people, plus the information accumulated by the media paint a grim picture of mercenary ideals taking over. In between all this, there is a pink pill.
Towheed Feroze is News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.