My seven-year-old son is very worried about my security. I feel his vulnerability every time he calls me when I am out.
“Papa, are you on a bus? Don’t get on a bus. There are bombs in the buses. Take a rickshaw,” he is sure to suggest. This is understandable, because petrol bombs and buses have become synonymous, creating horrors in public life.
Frequent footage on TV showing the excruciating pain of the petrol bomb victims, and the sufferings of their family members, have moved people of all ages. Newspaper front-pages have become predictable and pictures of bandaged victims appear in the news almost every day.
People are fed up with the BNP-led opposition and their unending blockade (or hartal) that has been bleeding the economy, severely disrupting the academic activities of millions of students.
No one has had a moment of relief since the beginning of this year. In Dhaka and elsewhere, some leaders of the ruling Awami League have pasted posters showing horrible pictures of the arson victims -- of course, not to show sympathy for the victims.
The main objective is political -- to create hatred among the people for the BNP-Jaamat who are largely responsible for the Molotov cocktail attacks on the buses, trains, trucks, etc.
One potician has crossed the limit of civility in displaying the photographs of the arson victims. If you pass the roads in Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, or Mirpur Road, you will see some billboards and posters showing charred bodies of the petrol bomb victims.
The posters, containing slogans such as “stop genocide,” “life first, democracy next,” and so forth, were strategically placed on the VIP roads so that no one can evade the gruesome pictures.
The politician will often place the posters on trucks and play various patriotic songs, to reignite people’s nationalism. Sometimes, he himself can also be seen sitting inside the truck.
There is no problem with playing patriotic songs and driving around the city to defy the hartal-blockades. We, the common people, would also like to do the same.
But this particular campaign is a rather crude one, as it shows photos of charred human remains and burnt children. This should be discouraged in a civilised society.
The campaign, knowingly or unknowingly, is pushing people, especially children and impressionable adolescents, towards savagery. This can have serious consequences if impressionable minds take the brutality and gore as normal and become too used to it.
An example of this would be of how desensitised we have become to seeing children beg, or when we see people with grave amputations or burns beg inside buses or at different intersections of the city.
I plead to the people in positions of power to not take advantage of people’s emotions, and to not use it for political gain, because that might be just as despicable as the politically-motivated bomb attacks.