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Towards a tolerant society  

Published: October 13, 2019 22:05:22 | Updated: October 15, 2019 22:12:33


The Prime Minister while speaking at a press conference at Ganabhaban in the capital about her visit to India recently on October 9, also referred to the merciless killing of a BUET student, Abrar Fahad, prompted by a Facebook status of the latter. She took a stern view and directed all concerned to mete out the 'toughest possible' punishment to Abrar's killers, students of the same institution. Meanwhile, the authorities of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) have met some demands of the intensely agitating students including placing a ban on student politics on the BUET campus.

The killing of the student raises a number of troubling questions. The most dominant one is where the unabated unrest and brutalities prevailing at the country's educational institutions are heading for. Here the disillusioned segments in society might feel like referring to a disappointing fact ---the proverbial reputation of Dhaka University as the 'Oxford of the East' exists no longer. It has been demonstrated time and again in recent surveys of the Asian universities. What's highly worrying is that the decline in academic activities at the universities goes in tandem with the rise in non-academic pursuits. The gleeful engagement of a section of students in activities alien to campuses brings to the fore many an ongoing social aberration.

 It's really woeful that the overall Bangladesh society has long been suffering from various types of bankruptcies. The topmost of them is the one related to the age-old values and moralities. Given the extent of degeneration of values in both urban and rural societies, the myriad types of rot appear to have become literally pervasive. Apart from various types of injustices, exploitations and ostracising that bedevil the vulnerable, violence continues to haunt different levels of communities. Thus despite being chiefly confined to smaller social units like the family, these spark ramifications with far-reaching impacts. In-laws burning a young housewife by dousing her with kerosene or provoking another to commit suicide --- all for dowry, have been rather common incidents these days in pockets of rural and urban Bangladesh. Defiling a school-going underage girl by a youth hooked on drug or others gang-raping a garment worker out of drug-incited violence are some of the horrific symptoms of a deeper malaise. Gory killings on suspicion, poisoning the fishes in one's pond in order to settle a score or setting fire to dwellings to evict people and grab their lands are fast becoming part of a menacing social insecurity situation. Intolerance and imposition of the views of a section of people on others also vitiates an otherwise harmonious atmosphere. In truth, an impunity culture tends to rule the roost.

Social thinkers, rights and other activists are stressing the need for  concerted efforts at the community and local government levels to create ramparts against savagery and different forms of injustice. Remedies in theory only cannot evidently measure up to the moral challenges. It is the vested interest groups lurking in society, which eventually emerge as obstructions to the activities of altruistic segments in communities. An ideal society is born only when grand dreams are coalesced smoothly into the activism generated by pragmatic social thinkers.

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