Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Limon: Holding out for justice

Update : 07 Jul 2013, 03:51 AM

I was left heartbroken after seeing a photo of Limon published in the Dhaka Tribune on July 1. In the picture, Limon, shot by Rab when he was only a 16-year-old boy, still had tears streaming down his face two years after being maimed.

I had visited him several times while he was going through his ordeal. I had seen him just after his leg was amputated. I had seen him again when investigators were grilling him.

I had never seen him cry despite the horrific experiences he endured. On this day I saw him crying while leaving the court – the institution that is supposed to provide justice.

Like many others who have been monitoring Limon’s case since his unfortunate shooting took place, I was frustrated and totally shocked by the Jhalkathi Court’s declaration of indictment. The court reportedly indicted Limon on July 1 on the charge of “carrying a revolver loaded with bullets and fighting with Rab.”

I read the news very carefully. I actually read it four times, as I found it hard to believe. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Later, I called Limon to be sure about this “indictment.” I was wondering what on earth could lead the court to indict him.

The court indicted Limon? The same Limon, who had already lost his leg and became physically disabled? The Limon, who used to work in a brick kiln to meet the costs of his own education? The Limon, who couldn’t attend his HSC examination that year because he was shot by our elite force, the Rapid Action Battalion? Is that the same Limon whom the Rab director general Mokhlesur Rahman, mentioned in a press briefing saying: “Limon may have been the ‘victim’ of a shootout” and explained that it happened during a gunfight between Rab and members of the “top-listed terrorist,” Morshed’s, gang?

Yes, it was indeed the same Limon. Limon confirmed all of this over the phone and all of a sudden I felt guilty. My only response to Limon was: “Try to get some rest, dear. Don’t worry, everything will be fine”

“Yes, apu,” Limon answered while trying hard to stop sobbing. I could hear the pain in his voice and I recalled how confident his voice was just two or three days before the indictment. He was confident since he had faith in the judiciary system. He thought that at least the judiciary would ensure justice for him! Perhaps based on that hope, on June 25, he told me: “I am not going to withdraw the cases against Rab.”

The question about withdrawing cases against the elite force came about when the National Human Rights Commission suggested that he withdraw the cases his mother filed against Rab.

The NHRC chair who, according to Limon, made the proposal, later justified this by telling Limon that he made such a proposal “because it is very tough to get justice by making the state a rival. We have to find a solution without making the state a rival ... justice will be ensured gradually.”

As a student of law, I know that a “violation of human rights” only occurs when the state violates citizen’s rights. Otherwise, any violation of rights can be titled as only a “crime.”

I am also well aware that in each and every case in which one’s human rights have been violated it is the state which will undoubtedly be the rival, and the NHRC is the body appointed to help me (citizens) fight against that state which dared to violate my rights.

That is why each progressive state forms a NHRC to monitor and root out criminal activity, to mitigate victim’s suffering, and to make the government understand that they cannot play with citizen’s lives and livelihoods! The state cannot deny our rights based solely on the fact that “the government has the power.”

I believed, and was taught, that the formation of the NHRC by the state is to remind us and to strengthen our trust in the knowledge that the state itself is not my rival, and that my state does not want me to suffer.

Yes, in my dearly loved country there are a few corrupted, bloodthirsty, racist, sexist and shameless officials, policy makers, law personnel, bureaucrats and lobbyists.

However, they are just a few and they do not represent my country as a whole – I believed in that. Lots of people, including Limon, who want to live in this country because they love it, believe that.

We common citizens still believe that good will prevail and bad will perish. We still believe in our guardians – the NHRC, the prime minister and her party’s good people whom we have elected hoping that they will ensure justice.

We still believe in the judiciary because we know that it is the place where we can take our fight to, if our guardians fail to perform their duties, because, that is the last stage, where the evil “culture of impunity,” finally dies. 

In reality, it seems, our guardians- the NHRC, prime minister, judiciary – do not care about us, the commoners, as much as we would like to believe.

That is why they have indicted Limon after the passage of two years – when he and his case are no longer “burning issues” among rights activists. That is why they suggest that Limon compromises, and that is why the prime minister remains silent regarding Limon.

But to Limon I say: I will still hold on to my hope, thinking that there remains a guardian in this chaotic but wonderful country, who will unequivocally stand beside us, the victims – oppressed and powerless. I really hope, with all my heart, you will hold on to that too. You have to hold on to your hope, that sweet hope named “justice.” 

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