Taking law into one's own hands
Two separate incidents on January 21, one in Konabari and the other in Kaliakair of Gazipur district have resulted in mob beatings causing death to both. Going by newspaper reports, rumours have been circulating in these areas of child abduction and murders, both of which are denied by local law enforcement agency. Despite such reassurances, residents of these areas live in abject fear of seeing their children disappear without a trace. Parents keep their children close and the fear of the unknown has heightened tensions to a breaking point.
The manner in which 'punishment' was meted out was gruesome and barbaric. One victim was beaten to death, and the other's body was set afire after the killing. The law enforcers present remained spectators to this horrid spectacle. This is not normal behaviour. In the past, suspected criminals were roughed up and then handed over to the local police. The incidents highlight a departure from that past. We are witnessing the rise of a culture of vigilantism where mob justice reigns supreme.
The video recording on cell phones by witnesses indicates that both victims were probably mentally challenged and their erratic behaviour was misinterpreted as suspicious behaviour. And how does one interpret the dubious role of lawmen stationed on the spot? The claim that they failed to desist the crowd falls flat when confronted with eyewitness accounts to the contrary. This in itself is an extremely disturbing development. The sense of mass insecurity prevalent in society is manifesting itself through these violent acts.
As we have come to learn, both victims were innocent of any wrongdoing and yet they met their brutal deaths -- something which defies explanation. The silence of law enforcers, whether on the spot or in general to take steps to mitigate a general rise in crime has left people to deal with the situation as they see fit. It is up to the authorities to restore public faith in the system that is fast losing its credibility.