Citizens are shocked by the violence unleashed on the streets of the nation’s capital on Sunday and Monday by groups of men determined to intimidate students demanding safer roads in the country. There is little question that the young school- and college-going students have done a remarkable job of reminding us of what governance is all about. Now they should be going back home and to school. We are happy that the government has meanwhile taken steps to respond positively to the demands of the students, which demands also happen to coincide with the thoughts of citizens across the spectrum. We trust the authorities will spare no effort in implementing their promises.
But what surprises people is the violence allegedly perpetrated by activists of the Chhatra League on the students. It was a matter of appreciation that the new leadership of the Chhatra League earlier made a good gesture by meeting the protestors at Shahbagh to express their solidarity with them on their demands and offered them chocolates as a measure of their affection for them. Unfortunately, the violence which followed that good gesture has now put paid to our short-lived confidence. Such violence should not have taken place.
We are deeply saddened by what happened on the streets of Dhaka on Sunday and Monday, when hordes of young men wielding iron rods and sticks, with the police clearly egging them along, pounced on the young students and private as well as public university students and did all they could to terrorise citizens. It was not a pretty sight when the police, instead of taking action against the armed youths, assisted them in beating up the students and media people doing their job of covering the incidents. Nothing can be more embarrassing for a nation.
The Prime Minister is right to suggest that there should be books in schoolbags rather than stones. We might add that by the same measure there should be no sticks and rods in the hands of any student organization. Such behaviour can only undermine our tenuous democracy. Those who are part of such organizations are also students and as such their focus should also be on studies.
We hope the crisis will come to a peaceful end at the earliest. We also hope that those who have been trying to take advantage of the situation by spreading manifest untruths on social media will be brought to book, for these elements have been doing incalculable damage to the social fabric in recent times by their provocative comments. Such attitudes are deplorable and unfortunate.