How can a lawmaker assault a college principal?
We're alarmed to notice a sharp rise in the cases of violence and intolerance against teachers over the last few months. The latest incident took place on July 7 in Rajshahi, where a lawmaker reportedly called a local college principal to his chamber and beat him in front of other principals. After the incident was reported in the media, the MP organised a press conference where the teacher was forced to read a statement denying being assaulted. However, it was later confirmed by a probe committee, as well as a leaked phone conversation, that he was indeed assaulted.
We shudder to think how an elected public representative can beat up a respectable person such as a teacher in such a brutal way. Regardless of what happened beforehand, can he behave in such a manner? Reportedly, while assaulting the teacher, the lawmaker asked for hockey sticks to beat him. We also came to know from media reports that he has a history of condoning violence on various occasions. We cannot help but wonder: what makes him feel so emboldened to behave like this? Such conduct is unbecoming a public representative.
Recently, the principal of another college, in Narail, was forced to wear a garland of shoes around his neck in the presence of police. Before that, another teacher was sent to jail after his students demonstrated against him for "hurting religious sentiments". Last Friday, the headmaster of a school was beaten up by local Awami League men in Barishal over the possession of a beel. Assaults against teachers continue in various forms, while their abusers and tormentors continue to enjoy impunity.
It saddens us to think how we, as a nation, have failed to uphold the dignity of our teachers. Teachers, especially those worthy of the name, have been victimised over and over again for boldly sharing their thoughts or for trying to inculcate values into their students. Needless to say, these incidents will have far-reaching consequences. While teachers as a community will be afraid to perform their duty with freedom, students' respect towards them will also diminish. And this will eventually harm the overall educational environment in schools, colleges and universities.
We urge the government to investigate all such incidents of teacher assaults and take legal action against those responsible. In the Rajshahi case, we think a judicial inquiry should be held, following which proper action needs to be taken. Such brazen display of intolerance must be stopped.