In the eye of the storm
Nobody can remain unaffected by the grisly murder of a promising young woman whose life was nipped in the bud by a heartless killer. Tonu was one of several women who in recent times in this country met a gruesome end after suffering torture at the hands of the killers. And seldom, if at all, has the murder of a person generated such a reaction with such spontaneity all over the country as has the death of Tonu. The reactions are understandable, and the passion and intensity of the outbursts are due as much to the identity of the victim as to the likely identity of the perpetrator(s). And that is why the overwhelming reaction of people empathising with Tonu and calling for unearthing the truth of the matter and identifying the killer(s) and bringing him/them to justice, whosoever they might be, and as soon as it is practicable.
And by the same token, seldom has the Bangladesh Army found itself in such a situation, quite inadvertently, stemming from what is patently a pure law and order issue. This is because the unfortunate incident has occurred inside a military area which is supposed to be a 'sanitised' place, and where everyone and everything should be safe. That such is not the case is evident from the way Tonu met her end. And it proves that everyone that resides within the cantonment area is not an angel descended from the heavens. And because the murder took place inside a cantonment it has devolved on the Army primarily to see the end of the matter swiftly.
However, there is one particular reason that, I think, has led to the vociferous nature of the reaction, and that is – the perception that has been created in the mind of the people from the very outset – that there is an attempt to put the matter under wraps. The way the state of the deceased was recorded, the fact that a second autopsy has been ordered, reportedly, even before the substance of the first autopsy report has been made public, that there has not been any palpable progress in the case in the last ten days since the murder, has accreted to build that perception. The matter has been compounded by the fact that Tonu's parents were grilled, not by the investigating authority directly involved in the case, but by Rab, and, reportedly, coerced to own up to the murder. And one does not know as yet why Rab had to cull a portion of ground at the site where the body was found without the knowledge of the CID, who happens to be the investigating authority, much to their chagrin.
All quarters must understand the messages the public demonstrations are conveying. One of which is that the authorities will do everything to get to the bottom of the matter. It is important that the culprit is identified quickly. There have been several cases, not all murders, where the alleged accused, because of their ostensible links with the high and the mighty, have evaded justice and managed to avoid punishment for a long time. The remonstrations stem from the fear that investigation of sensational murder cases running up against the wall if the perpetrators are close to the powers that be.
One has not forgotten the case of Sagar – Runi which has apparently faded into oblivion and the momentum of the movement has very markedly, yet inexplicably, appeared to have been diffused.
It took more than a year to finalise the charge-sheet of the Narayanganj seven-murder case where the court was constrained to point out several shortcomings therein, and detractors suggest that those were not unintended. And because of his links the main accused, reportedly, is passing his days in a hospital 'prison' cell, apparently suffering from a back pain.
The Basic Bank is another case in point where the main person responsible for the scam has been left untouched;
It is in the interest of the Army's credibility that everything should be done to resolve the mystery. Cantonments are not sacrosanct areas and from time to time criminal acts do occur in there. There are all shades of people residing in the cantonment, not all circumscribed by military rules and regulations. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that there would be people with base instincts disposed towards venting their bestial desire.
There is nothing for the Army to prove except that it will not countenance crime whoever the perpetrator may be.
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star