Who is responsible for the ‘unnatural death’ of Bhuban Shil?
It was an unlikely death for 55-year-old Bhuban Chandra Shil, a lawyer who lived in Dhaka city for work while his family stayed in Maizdi, Noakhali.
He died today after battling for a week for his life at the intensive care unit of a hospital in the capital.
He just happened to be passing the Tejgaon industrial area on his motorbike when a stray bullet hit his head.
He was an innocent victim caught in what seems to be a revenge attack by a criminal gang. It was Tariq Sayeed Mamun, a suspect in film actor Sohel Chowdhury's murder case, who was the actual target.
After serving 26 years in prison, Mamun had been out on bail and was going home in his car when he was intercepted by a gang of criminals on motorbikes who started shooting at him.
Mamun tried to escape the vehicle but the criminals chased him down and stabbed him in the neck and back.
Miraculously, Mamun, after treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, survived and was released after treatment. Bhuban, however, after being on life support at a city hospital for about a week, lost the fight for life.
From the news reports, we have come to know that just before leaving office that very night, Bhuban had made a video call to his wife and wanted to chat with his daughter.
But she had already fallen asleep. Who would have thought that this would be his last call to his family?
We can feel the tragedy of Bhuban's death when we see the grief-stricken faces of his wife, daughter and other relatives who had gone through a week of agonising wait, hoping and praying that somehow he would survive.
We can commiserate with them because it could have been any one of us in that intensive care unit with a fatal bullet wound. It could be any one of us outside the ICU consumed by the paralysing fear of getting the bad news.
But why must our lives be so precarious? Why should we be at risk of getting shot or stabbed just because we stepped out on the streets? Where were the police when criminals decided to carry out an assassination in such an important area of the city? Who is ultimately responsible for such deaths?
Perhaps it is our absurd level of compromising with the injustice that has resulted in yet another "unnatural death" as Bhuban's would be officially labelled.
Perhaps it is because our cries for help when we are attacked on the streets, fall on deaf ears. Sometimes even when law enforcers are nearby.
Our state is obligated to protect our right to life as guaranteed by our constitution. And it is mainly through its law enforcement agencies that this obligation can be carried out.
While we expect them to identify the killers and bring them to book we also await a stronger presence of law enforcers on the streets during the night, especially in areas that have been identified as crime hotspots.
The authorities must take all measures to ensure minimal security for all city dwellers. We cannot accept any more such "unnatural deaths".