The sadness along with the steep sense of helplessness isn’t wearing off. It seemed that sadness was easier to salvage, but it is the helplessness that is keeping its grip on my psyche and isn’t letting go. I think of the reason for this.
No, it’s not the traffic jam that is making me sad; it’s not even the increasing prices of essentials that are deepening my melancholy mood. It is the deaths around me and us. There are too many fatalities across the country, in all strata of society.
Reckless driving, the lack of fire safety, killings after rapes — these are the prominent reasons for unwanted deaths across the country. Sometimes, it looks like we will never be able to prevent these fatalities. I feel we have become so accustomed to deaths, and so nonchalant towards them, that they don’t evoke rational thinking in us — that people are dying through no fault of their own.
The student of an Islamic school of Feni, Nusrat Jahan Rafi, had to give in to death. She died a miserable death. The physicians tried their best. But the wounds were so grave that it wasn’t possible to save her. There are thousands like Nusrat we cannot save.
She was first sexually assaulted by the principal of her school. Then, she sought justice for the crime committed against her. It was then the heinous hooligans set her on fire after soaking her with a flammable substance. What butchery.
We don’t have any language to console her family members. We also don’t have any language to express our disgust against the people who are responsible for her miserable death. To my mind, it is our collective failure to develop a society with civility, gentility, love, and compassion. Dangerous incidences such as this take place, and we somehow for some time feel empathetic for the victim, and then after a while, we forget the victim as well as what happened to him or her.
As the commoners, we don’t have anything else to do but to feel helpless.
Remember Sohagi Jahan Tonu? Three years have passed since the rape and murder of the theatre activist and student of Comilla Victoria College, but there has been no visible progress in the case filed over the incident.
We would like to believe that the Nusrat killing will be properly investigated, as the High Court itself said it will interfere if any negligence is found in the investigation into the killing. The court mentioned that Police Bureau of Investigation is holding an inquiry into the incident, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself was also concerned about the incident. The court said: “Please keep faith in the investigation … we’ll interfere, if there is any negligence.”
It was very heartening to see that the honourable court has alerted the investigative officials, saying that the fate of the Nusrat case doesn’t turn out to be like the ones of Sagor-Runi and Tonu. We thank the court for this.
And finally, as always, when everyone failed to accomplish a task, the prime minister had to direct. She has directed that tough action should be taken against the people who killed Nusrat. Now that’s a ray of hope. When our prime minister intervenes, we see some work being done.
However, on the other hand, I have seen a photo that showed a group of female students of the same Islamic school demanding unconditional release of the principal who is the alleged rapist, and is believed to be linked with setting fire on Nusrat’s body.
I think those who have demanded the release of the alleged rapist are either psychologically impaired, or they have been forced to stage that rally. It rests on our law enforcers to truthfully investigate the matter.
This teacher is the head of an Islamic school. It’s noteworthy that none of the Islamic scholars of the country have spoken against this rape and murder. Now, if the Islamic schools are the indicators of our Muslimness, we certainly are grossly mistaken. Islam calls for tough punishment for murder.
Having said that, we must say what we’re asking for could be a Utopian society, but we live in a non-Utopian one where sadness and helplessness are an everyday affair.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.
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