How much pain do you need to inflict to kill a man? How many bruises can reveal that you are bleeding internally to death? How many brutal deaths can ultimately kill a nation? These unending questions remain unanswered.
Abrar Fahad had to endure unspeakable injuries and pain before he breathed his last, beaten up by none other than some fellow BUET students. Doctors said he died of extreme pain and internal bleeding. The news shook us to the core. Fear, sheer fear, rushed down my spine thinking of the future generation that is not born yet.
What society we are building for them? A society where there is no place for dissent or constructive criticism even if it is for good cause. A society where the country’s most brilliant students in an institution like BUET go rogue because of rotten political practice.
This is 2019. We have reached the peak of civilisation, at least we believe so. We have overcome the dark times of our ancestors. We all heard of the stories of historical murders and executions of fine minds due to their dissent to the rulers and religions. Galileo Galilei was one of them. The church lashed at him as he said that the earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. He died under house arrest.
The BUET students who killed Abrar were no less meritorious than any other BUET students. They are students of civil engineering, mechanical engineering and so on. They could be assets of the country. One of them could be a mighty scientist or a teacher and who knows what! What made them killers? What made them merciless brutes, so confident and fearless even after being arrested?
Who killed their humanity? It is not only the killing of Abrar, it is the killing of the 10 or more meritorious students of the country who appeared to be the killers of Abrar. It is the killing of 10 other families along with Abrar’s one’s who dreamt big for their children, but ended up losing everything!
Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) raised its voice against the disparity and injustice of Pakistani rulers in 1971. What about themselves now? How the ghost enter the woods? Who will clean up the mess? We are looking for a messiah. But the question is, is there really any hope left?
Dissent has been criminalised in many countries in the world. Gauri Lankesh, an Indian journalist was shot dead reportedly by a ruling party chapter due to her constant dissents. People are beaten to death, lynched and murdered for different opinions, caste and religion.
An Indian martyr’s daughter Gurmehar Kaur was trolled on social media and threatened to be raped by ruling party BJP’s supporters for saying, “Pakistan did not kill my father, war did.” She was supporting a social campaign against war.
Abrar, Toki or Bishwajit were never killed by a quarter of political supporters but by the malfunctioning political practice itself that never was brought under justice. The political practice that gave these murderers assurance that killing a human will not cost anything. They will be spared at the end of the day.
Russian president Vladimir Putin wanted to take control of rap songs accusing the genre of music to spread use of drugs, dissent against the ruler and abusive languages. A Russian rapper, Husky, was jailed for his gigs in the street.
We are living in a time where so called democracy is serving the purpose of dictatorship. Where people cannot ask questions or express their dissent without fear. Journalists cannot write because of the fear of being jailed. People cannot speak up on social media due to the fear of lynching or being murdered.
Politics has become the new religion in the world. Ask your god ‘why’, you will be killed by the almighty’s men. Do not ask why the roads are dirty or why there are deadly potholes in your way home. Do not ask where your tax money goes. Do not dare to ask why there is not adequate employment for you and your friends. Forget about the unbearable traffic congestions you face every day.
In Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union or during British colonial rules in the sub-continent, dissidents landed in jail or faced severe punishment. But we are living under democracy. Constructive criticism cannot be frowned upon here as it is the indicator of successful democratic atmosphere.
This cannot go on. Abrars cannot be sacrificed again and at the political altar of greed and frenzied power. If nothing changes, pervasive lawlessness and protection of the killers by the state will lead the nation and the society to gutter, with no way out.
*Farjana Liakat works for Prothom Alo. The article contains contents and opinion of the author solely. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org