The killing of blogger Oyasiqur Rahman Babu by three Islamic zealots is different from the murder of blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death on February 26 in front of the police, by some assailants -- presumably the Islamic militants who were threatening the American blogger on social media.
All the bloggers -- Avijit, Ahmed Rajib Haider (killed February 15, 2013), and Babu -- were killed in a similar fashion, by hacking with machetes on their faces and heads. The killers chose the utmost brutality -- creating panic among people and as a warning to those who might try to get in their way in the future. Killing with a bullet has less impact than hacking with a machete.
Why is Babu’s murder different? Different because this is the first time that the attackers were caught red-handed -- a situation that would not allow the police to say “we are investigating it, and we cannot divulge anything now for the sake of the investigation.”
It is clear who the killers are, and what their motives are. But the most interesting side of the difference is that the assailants were caught by some socially excluded transgendered persons, who are considered to be “untouchable” by many in our society.
These transgendered people have been abandoned, even by their parents, for fear of the social stigma of raising them. They are often seen begging for money and offering blessings in return at different intersections of the city.
A lot of them are often beaten and intimidated by people for no reason at all. A large number of them are also often sexually exploited.
On March 30, the transgendered persons roaming around the area where Babu was hacked to death, rushed to the spot, as witnessed by a driver, Rafiq, after hearing people scream. They caught hold of the murderers and managed to gather other people. Others, who are so quick to judge the transgendered persons, did not dare try to overpower the murderers with the machetes.
What a shame!
This incidence once again demonstrates how apathetic we are to the plight of other people. Gone are the school lessons which taught “men are for men.” We have become so indifferent to our fellow human beings that some people seemed to quite enjoy Avijit’s murder, and even took photos of his bloody body and of his wife.
The killers fled the scene without any resistance from the crowd. Writer Humayun Azad faced a similar situation -- nobody came to his aid to chase the attackers or protect him.
The transgendered persons have shown us what we should do. They demonstrated the human values that the rest of us seem to have forgotten. And yet, they live outside of mainstream society. We should salute the transgendered people for showing us what brave Bangladeshis should do to stop such incidents.
The nation that came into being with the sacrifice of 3 million people is now bereft of courage. And this time, courage has been shown by people who are mercilessly ostracised from society. In Bangladesh, we are yet to understand the value of diversity.
But the Awami League government deserves credit for recognising the third gender -- the transgendered persons. Their rights must be protected. And we must remember this day, the day when they stood up against all odds for a fellow citizen.
We need to do the same for them, and make sure they can live the lives they deserve as valuable citizens of Bangladesh.