Attacks on teachers reflect social rot

Image credit: bdnews24.com Image credit: bdnews24.com

Humiliation of teachers has become a new normal in this country. Over the last couple of months, such incidents have occurred in different parts of the country. Last month, a college teacher named Utpal Kumar Sarkar in Ashulia was beaten to death by a student. The student, an eve teaser and a local goon hit him with a cricket stump. He later died at a hospital. In another sad incident, acting principal of a college in Narail was subjected to the ultimate ignominy of wearing a garland of shoes around his neck. The allegation of blasphemy was against a student of his college but as the acting principal he was forced to suffer the humiliation. Again, a group of people attacked the residence of Professor Ratan Siddiqui in the Uttara area in Dhaka and assaulted him just before the Jumma prayer. The attackers labelled him and his family as atheists and Hindus.

All three incidents are pretty disturbing. Similar incidents have also been reported in newspapers and electronic media. Unfortunately, some common patterns are visible in most cases. The victims are primarily Hindus or non-Muslims, and there is an allegation of blasphemy against them. Moreover, the attackers, their instigators to be precise, propagate such allegations to cover their misdeeds. Take the case of the attack on Ratan Siddiqui. The incident occurred when the teacher and his wife got stuck in their car at the gate of entrance. Someone illegally parked a motorcycle right in front of the gate. The altercation started when the teacher asked to clear the entrance and let him park his car. Instead of removing the bike, a group of people shouted at him, tried to break down the gate and swooped on him, terming him an atheist. Though these people came to join Jumamh prayer in a nearby mosque, they were provoked by a few to attack the professor and dramatist. A group involved in extorting toll from the street vendors in exchange for backing them to occupy streets for selling vegetables, fruits and other kitchen items is active there. They successfully use religious sentiment to make their case stronger.

Every Friday, many street vendors set up makeshift markets occupying a large portion of streets and roads adjoining to mosques at different localities in Dhaka. As a result, moving cars and other vehicles on those streets become impossible, especially after the Jummah prayer. Moreover, the vendors feel empowered as they illegally pay for arranging the temporary shops. Their total payment is distributed among local political leaders, goons and members of law enforcement agencies. Though this is an open secret, nobody dares protest the gross irregularities. It is a troublesome development, no doubt.

The attack on Utpal Sarkar has another dimension. A growing number of youths, backed by political goons, are now involved in various anti-social activities and crimes, including sexual harassment. Most of the time, they go unpunished due to little social resistance. Being a responsible teacher, it was difficult for Utapl to tolerate any such thing inside the educational institution. The reckless youth could not accept the teacher's disciplinary intervention and retaliated brutally.

Thus, labelling the recent attacks on teachers as the communal attack only partially identifies the deep-rooted trouble. Of course, there are incidents of targeted humiliation of teachers of religious minority community. There is also the proliferation of unruliness and anti-social activities. All these hasten a deep social rot.


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