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Dhaka Tribune

Values to walk the gallows

Update : 25 May 2014, 06:25 PM

The alleged killers of the Fulhgazi upazila chairman do not look like killers. Lined up by RAB and wearing colourful t-shirts, these young boys are no different than those standing near the tea shop at the street corner gossiping about the upcoming World Cup. 

These are young teenagers who possibly spend sleepless nights watching Spanish League matches, but behind those youthful dimensions lurk the profit-driven cruel minds, exploited by the godfathers of society. These teenagers – the arrested are possibly hardly above twenty – bear testament to an insidious social culture where all ethics are summarily sidelined for money and power. It’s not certain if the arrested ones killed Ekramul Haq, the UP chairman, but it’s safe to assume that unless there was adequate evidence, they would not be arrested.

Several reconstructions of the killing have showed that the whole operation was not a spur of the moment act, but something that was planned meticulously beforehand. One group created a diversion by inciting panic while the other, taking advantage of public fear, carried out the deed. Did the youngsters plan the whole event or were they provided the blueprint by someone else? While the ones that pulled the trigger need to be caught, the mastermind of the whole episode is the major criminal who, in most cases, remains outside the legal dragnet, astutely manipulating the political chessboard.

It’s alleged that feud over authority resulted in the latest killing where both AL and BNP men were involved. We are not surprised by the supposition that leadership tussle superseded political allegiance. The unsavoury truth of this society is that when money is involved, party loyalty and political ideology become disposable. It’s money, power, and control that dominate. Party label is merely the support, the safe refuge during tense times.

Ethics and morality are certainly not part of this equation. They are rhetoric used to cleverly coat the vicious game of profit-making. These youngsters also took up arms for money and a quick rise to infamy. Shoot a prominent leader down, develop the killer instinct. and finally, get rid of other competitors to rise to the position of power. In this game, there is no time for remorse and little patience for outdated morality.

The arrest of the eight young delinquents can be seen as a prompt response from law enforcers. However, the core issue of the crimnilisation of the young mind with perturbing ramifications may go unaddressed. Just lining them in front of the camera and then pressing charges against them is hardly a solution. Like I said in an op-ed a few weeks earlier – the problem lies in the systematic pollution of general social credo.

When a father or a working mother’s sudden abnormal surge in income is not questioned by children or family members and is instead deemed as good luck, we cannot expect any values to survive. Similarly, when hypocrisy of the highest order sees once-corrupt people delivering platitudes about honest living with the prefix “Haji” placed strategically before their names, how can youngsters grow up with any moral compass?

Crime will always be part of society since no community is perfect. However, when juveniles are seen to be working as hired killers, a profound social flaw is detected. To go back to the history of crime in the city, even ten years ago, hired killers were mostly young. Those who pulled the trigger a decade ago are dead due to internal struggle for supremacy while those who live now work as the masterminds or much sought-after crime strategists.

It goes without saying that these elements would not have thrived unless they received political blessings. In a time when getting rich or powerful at any cost overtakes all other factors, it’s foolhardy to expect the young to be the champions of moral correctness.

Sorry to say, we have corrupt family atmospheres where venality of all forms is given impunity through the forceful legitimisation of the belief that this is how the world works, if you cling to ideals, you end up a loser. Add to this the pervasive culture of cronyism that has established the firm understanding that unless one has the right connections, reaching a certain level is impossible.

Can anyone show me an example where an AL or a BNP government ever spiritedly backed someone from the opposing side because that person held the right credentials or possessed a relatively clean image? Suitable or not, educated or a total rustic, the preference has always been the party man. These happen right before us – the blatant safeguarding of political dogs – so is it any shock that teenagers have done away with all scruples?

Just to give a small example of the erosion of once strictly followed social cultures, not too long ago, it was a norm in Bangladesh for youngsters to always honour seniors and, as courtesy, not smoke in front of them. Personally, I don’t believe that smoking is disrespectful but that is how society has interpreted deference for ages. It’s similar to addressing a senior as “bhai” or “apa” as opposed to calling them by their names.

This culture is no longer present because parents do not emphasise on these small behaviour-related matters anymore. How can they when they are the biggest advocates of crass philosophies?

I do not know what will come of these youngsters who were caught, but this much is sure, some of them, due to their connections or the blind affection of parents willing to do anything (read pay whatever amount necessary), will eventually be set free.

The question is, will they change? I doubt it. It seems we are heading for an age when it will be normal for a proud parent to boast: “My beloved son, feared godfather, is extremely wealthy and owns a lot of property and is ‘the’ right-hand man of the local MP!” In response, the one may think: “Oh! What a suitable person for my marriageable daughter, studying political science!”

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