Violence and the young
One could call it a storm in a teacup. And yet what happened in the Dhaka University area on Monday turned out to be something worse. An argument at a tea stall between students and the stall owner over change for a hundred taka note took an unexpected turn when policemen tried to calm everyone who happened to be getting agitated. And so what followed was predictable. Students of the university tried to resist the police, who in turn went into action to discipline the young men. What happened to the tea stall owner is not known. That is natural, for all too often the causes of a bad situation often get lost when bigger elements are thrown into the chaos.
And what was the end result of the fracas? Again, it was a predictable affair. Altogether eight persons were hurt in the melee and in the process a police van was torched. It was plain violence, or call it vandalism, that was at work. Witnesses have spoken of unruly students pouncing on the policemen trying to contain the situation and many of them turned out with rods and sticks in their hands, obviously as a show of force. It all boils down to a matter of how a trivial matter can balloon into a crisis no one foresees. Much a similar condition erupted a few days ago when traders in the New Market area and students of Dhaka College found themselves locked in clashes over the purchase of a shoe rack! Of course, this was not for the first time that Dhaka College boys were involved in such situations. Indeed, the frequency of incidents involving traders and these students appears to be increasing, much to citizens' discomfort. As on earlier occasions of brawling by the students and traders, traffic on Mirpur Road came to a halt, with hundreds of people -- pedestrians and motorists and commuters alike -- finding themselves hostage to the situation.
What remedy is there for us to bank on? The first point to be made here is that the law and order forces must be constantly alert to the probability of normal conditions suddenly turning toward the nasty. The second and more important point is for academic institutions -- schools, colleges and universities -- to inculcate the idea in their pupils that discipline is part of the journey to the future. Not all students indulge in violence, it is true. But the handful who do quite successfully tar the others with the same brush.