From the Editor-in-Chief: These killings chip away at our reputation

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, April 28th, 2016
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Murders most foul are being committed with impunity in the country. Only days after the killing of a teacher of Rajshahi University, we now have the shocking news of two other men, one of them a former employee of the US embassy in Dhaka, being done to death. The statement by US ambassador Marcia Bernicat on the need to detect and nab the killers of the two men is one we share, for the very plausible reason that all these killings that have been going on since 2013 have increasingly led to an erosion of our reputation as a land of liberal ideas. The impunity with which liberal thinkers — bloggers, writers, publishers and academics — are being eliminated has pushed us down the scale of respectability around the world. Worse, the failure of the authorities to detect the criminals behind such tragic happenings, apart from a mouthing of the old platitudes about bringing the guilty to justice, has fast been conveying the impression that they are incapable of doing the job.


It is time drastic measures were taken by the government to reassure citizens and the world beyond our frontiers that the state of Bangladesh is indeed capable of putting a stop to all the ugliness which has in recent times marred its politics. But for that to be done, the country needs the administration to wake up to its responsibilities. It does not help that the authorities remain in a state of denial about the presence of Islamist militants in the country even when after nearly every murder that has taken place, militant outfits like al-Qaeda and ISIS have claimed responsibility for the evil deeds. The home minister needs to acknowledge the truth that his cavalier way of looking at circumstances does little to enhance the image of the government. Besides, the clear inability of the police and other security forces in the country to remain alert to possible militant acts or even to net the men who coolly walk away after every murder demonstrates to the nation in no uncertain terms the miserable state we find ourselves in today.


The larger and perhaps more unpalatable truth is that the culture of impunity which has defined social conditions in these past few years has a whole lot to do with the rise in militant crime. The failure to prosecute those involved in harassing women at the Pahela Baishakh celebrations last year, the reluctance of the ruling party to have its undisciplined followers in its student and youth wings answer for their transgressions and — this is important — the outrageous manner in which its political figures at the local and central levels have engaged in questionable behaviour in a number of areas are factors which have laid the government open to all sorts of charges. When the respected Sultana Kamal makes her allegations about ruling party men commandeering the property of the Hindu minority, when nothing happens in the matter of the Tonu murder case, when no satisfactory answers are there to questions about the theft of state funds from Bangladesh Bank, there are reasons to worry about the future.


The government needs to go for some serious rethinking. It cannot afford to lose its way, not after all the good it has done through maintaining constitutional continuity through the elections of January 2014 and through seeing justice done to the collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army in 1971. In short, the government must rediscover its goals. That can be done through reinventing itself.

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