It was the last act in the bleak drama. And it was written by none other than Providence. The young men who had unleashed mayhem in a restaurant in Gulshan in July this year in the name of Islam and subsequently were killed in the hands of the law enforcers now lie in their eternal sleep in some unidentified graves in the city. Their mortal remains were kept in the hospital freezer since their death and now they exist as numbers only, in the graveyard. Media reports say that the authorities concerned had offered the dead bodies of the jihadists to the respective families for burial but possibly their conscience did not permit them to show any respect or sympathy to their wayward sons for their evil deeds in life. They feel they have been wantonly wronged and disgraced by their sons who had kept them totally in the dark about their whereabouts.
We understand the families took the decision on their own and were under no threat from any state agency whatsoever. Some family members have already offered their apology to the nation for the unparalleled acts of barbarity of their sons that resulted in the deaths of so many innocent, unarmed human beings that included a good number of foreigners and some Bangladeshis. Neither the family members of the victims nor the nation have forgiven the killers or given any credence to what they did on July 1. The same is the case with the families of jihadists who died during police raids in Kalayanpur and Narayanganj.
The refusal of the family members of the dead jihadists to take delivery of their dead bodies from the morgue clearly sends a message to other young men out there who are still pursuing the distorted mission of establishing Islam through the bloody path of violence. The message says that the people of the country in general and their families in particular, do not approve of the religious dogma, and the methods of implementation that they want to impose by force on the people. The message further says that Islam is well rooted in this country and there is no need for guns and knives to establish it.
The jihadists knew that they would not be able to convince their own family members about the rationale of their mission hence they left their homes without informing them. But the history of Islam and the history of Crusade and Jihad of the eleventh century tell us that in real jihad family members encourage their sons and daughters to go and defend their faith till the last drop of blood. They return like heroes to their families and a dead jihadist gets a hero's welcome with an honourable burial.
But nothing can be more painful when parents cannot follow the rituals as per their religious belief and give their dead son a decent burial. The pain is exacerbated when they know they would not be able to identify the son's grave. And this is precisely what has happened with the Gulshan jihadists.
The brainwashed young men who now lie in unmarked graves had all the opportunities in the world to lead a normal life and contribute to society and religion in various constructive ways but they opted to script their own violent end following instructions of some motivators. We believe there are many more young people in Bangladesh who are unnecessarily going rogue in a society where everyone enjoys the freedom to practice and preach religion in a peaceful manner. And yet, these young men and women are going against the mainstream to implement their own brands of Islam with the help of guns and grenades. Will they be successful or will they also end up in unmarked graves in the near future?
The writer is Special Supplements Editor, The Daily Star