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Victims of intolerance


Victims of intolerance

Two recent incidents at the country's two educational institutions have jolted public conscience. In one case, a teacher at a school in Savar, not far from Dhaka, was killed by his student on the schoolyard. In another, a teacher was subjected to humiliation in public at a college in Narail. Though there was a world of difference between the circumstances that led to those sad endings, the common thread that connects them is that both the victims are teachers. The series of incidents that lay behind Narail case have meanwhile come to light, thanks to the media reports. However,  the reports are still sketchy about  the reasons behind the murder of the Savar teacher. Students, teachers and civil society members across the country have staged demonstrations condemning the violence committed against teachers in the two incidents. 

So far as the public protests and demonstrations go, both the incidents have been lumped into one issue of violence against teachers. But every murder is reprehensible, even if the victim is a person of no consequence.  

Now, in the Savar teacher murder case, a teenage boy was involved. No doubt, though in his teens, the boy had already turned into a violent criminal so much so that he thought nothing of beating and stabbing  his teacher with a cricket stump to death. In that case, it is the job of the police to find out the causes and the motive behind the murder. In case the police dragged its feet over arresting the killer boy or failed to arrest him, then there would be reason to suspect that a vested quarter might be involved in the shocking murder.  

But the police have done its job by promptly arresting the killer. And the whole incident is now under investigation. So, if there is any lapse in the process of bringing the offender to exemplary justice, that should provide enough reason to stage protest demonstrations by the victim's family and even the general public.  

In the second case, the students along with some locals humiliated a college principal in Narail by placing a ring made of shoes around his neck in public.  

Reports have it that a group of angry  students of the college was demanding that one of their fellow students had posted something on the social media that amounted to a sacrilege to Islamic faith and so he should be taken to task. But the college principal, it was alleged, rather than responding to the resenting students' demand forthwith, handed the matter over to the police.  

And in consequence, the protesting students and locals took the law into their own hands. And it all happened in presence of the victim's colleagues and the members of the district administration including the police.  

It was very unfortunate and unacceptable. Protest demonstration against this scandalous incident is, of course, justified.  

But at the same time, it is also important to note that the issue that led to such a deplorable consequence was a highly sensitive one. And so, it called for extreme caution in handling for the simple reason it had already become a flash point at the subcontinental level. And Bangladesh is not an isolated place.  

In such a situation, it would be irresponsible to politicise the event or even stereotype or scapegoat any  particular group for the incident.  

If anything, such an approach only further muddies, even turn the situation more volatile, rather than help to resolve the problem. And if there is at all any connection between the two incidents (of Savar and Narail) as some would like to hint at, then it is in the fact that people are getting more and more intolerant with every passing day.  

To know why it is so, one needs to look into the deeper social and economic roots of the problem. And as no society is an island, one needs also to consider the issue in its wider regional as well as international context.  

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