Guppies for mayor!

Afsan Chowdhury
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
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A totally innocent man was hacked to death for no reason other than going around when an agitation was on. There is visual record of the killing, that several participated in the killing but the forensic report said that only one blow was noted.  The result was that not all who participated in the killing were given the maximum sentence. Only two were given proving that justice is still elusive in Bangladesh. Biswajit’s parents have expressed their frustration and despair and there is not much else we can do, other than do the same.  But then who ever promised justice for the poor, which is largely now meant for the better off, the powerful, the influential. So he will become just another number of the big list of those who is denied what is his by right.


Take the second case of Siddiqur, who has lost his sight due to a tear gas shell hitting his eyes.  They were protesting delay in holding exams and of course the police intervened and fired shells. They exploded hitting his eyes and he was severely injured. When records surfaced showing that it was police action which injured him, the police responded by charging seven protesters with attempted murder in what was perhaps one of the most cruelly ironic act possible.


When pressure mounted, the police said that there were two video versions and one showed that the police were innocent. When this was contested, the police said they would  hold an inquiry committee and punish the guilty if proven.


By that time public pressure had mounted so high that the administration was forced to act and he was sent to India for treatment. However, his eye sights couldn’t be saved. This blinding by police action is a horrific act and completely undue force was applied but as the police also exerts force to protect the powers that be, they can’t be held accountable.


The government has now promised him a job and of course that act of charity is expected to erase all that the police have done. Now that Siddiqur is blinded but promised a job, that should make up for the loss of his sight. We are not dealing with justice but control of social rage so anything is possible in pursuit of that and all actions can be deemed legitimate.


The third incident to turn heads this week is the announcement by the authorities that large armies of guppies – a tropical freshwater fish popular in aquariums (they’re also called rainbow fish) – will be released into Dhaka’s drains, as the Dhaka city corporations’ latest stroke of genius against chikunguniya. Now this has seriously confused us because that either means the stagnant water that collects in various homes have actually gained the status of drains or  the drains have been upgraded into fresh water. Or maybe drains upgraded to aquariums.


The reason why we say this is because the mayors have scoffed and scolded a great deal saying they  can’t be going into people’s homes to put up mosquito nets and so on, when all that was really asked was to not ease up on the municipal bodies’ long-established anti-mosquito drives. You know when they would come around with the big spray and raise hell in the neighbourhood for a bit – all for a good cause. But these new mayors seem to think it’s all our fault for allowing water to collect and stagnate in our homes, like so many little labs for our beloved aedes to breed, right in our homes.  But now we hear that the drains are the culprits and guppies will liberate the city from the future epidemic.  Will the fish eat dengue and malaria eggs too? Just asking.


The reason we may sound a bit confused is because we are now confused about what exactly is going on and who is responsible for all the problems that we are causing.


It’s true the slaughter of Biswajit is his fault because what was he doing in the street when politics was on. He should have been sitting at home watching serials but instead he goes out and causes so much trouble for boys in the party who were practicing defensive skills.


Siddiqur had no business going there protesting and wasted a fully functional tear gas shell. Why was he not averting his eyes and letting the shell do its job? It serves him right.


As for guppies, that is the best thing to do. We live in drains, our homes are dirty and guppies must save the day.  We should be grateful not complaining. Thanks.

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