What do the recent lynchings say about our society?
Lynching is “premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group.” It takes place when informal public executions are carried out by a group of people in order to punish an alleged criminal. Lynching was popular in the US in the 19th century when the country’s racial tensions were at its peak, but the practice of lynching is still prevalent in countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
In Bangladesh, recently, we have heard of many cases of people being beaten to death without any evidence of their alleged transgressions, based purely on suspicion alone. It has not even been a week that a 40-year-old single mother of two, Taslima Begum Renu, was beaten to death in the capital.
The woman was on her way to Uttar Badda Government Primary School to ask for information about the admission process, when locals killed her under the suspicion that she was a child abductor. Moreover, videos of the lynching went viral on social media -- it baffles me how someone can be beaten to death in a relatively metropolitan city such as Dhaka, that too in broad daylight.
Yet, we boast about how we are becoming more digital as a nation and we see media coverage on how Bangladesh has made significant progress in closing the gender gap. But have we really progressed as a nation? Have we succeeded in closing the gender gap? Forget about the growing economy, are we growing as individuals?
It certainly does not seem that way.
The attackers were just a group of angry men and boys who had no evidence that the woman was an abductor; but they still decided to vent out all their frustrations and hatred on her because they probably lead miserable lives and feel no remorse, no shame, and feel they have the right to take out their anger on her simply based on cooked-up, incorrect suspicions.
Perhaps some of the attackers will get caught, but it is not only their fault -- the onus also lies with the bystanders and the people who stood by and recorded the incident on their phones.
How long are we going to hide behind our phones? How long are we going to silently watch as injustice takes place right in front of our eyes? It is high time we educate the masses to protest whenever they witness any sort of wrong-doing and put more focus on mental health.
Martin Luther King once said: “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people.”
The nephew of the victim, Nasir Uddin Tito, filed a case against 400 or 500 unknown individuals with the Badda Police Station -- who are also complicit for their inaction at the scene of the crime.
Back in 19th century America, lynchings were a popular way for white people to resolve some their anger they had against free black people.
They blamed newly-freed slaves for their financial problems and even many whites were lynched for advocating anti-lynching movements.
Are we going down the same path?
Are we breeding hatred against each other just for the sake of it?
But what’s the point?
All this talk will eventually go to waste -- we will end up writing articles or sharing articles about these things. We will only end up being keyboard warriors and opinionated on social media -- the world will keep rotating and society will move on.
We should not be surprised by the frequency of such incidents, in a country where even infants get raped near daily.
But then again, who knows, maybe one of those articles would spark a revolution that results in tangible change in our society.
Maybe, one day we will make true progress as a nation, as a society. Maybe one day we will relearn what it means to be human to each other. Maybe one day this will all change.
Zubayer Zakir Khan has vast experience of working in the development sector and is currently the Internship Coordinator and Adjunct Faculty of Independent University Bangladesh (IUB).