The killing of Rajon has been a kick in the teeth for the whole nation. It is a howling shame that the 13-year old boy, tied hand and foot like a lamb taken for slaughter, has been brutally beaten to death in broad daylight, in a crowded place in the north-eastern city of Sylhet in front of people's eyes. It has, for obvious reason, appalled me like the many. But what appalls me more is that the people, who had witnessed the horrific murder, sat mute and motionless. They are 'good people', peace-loving and law-abiding, and hence did not want to become entangled in anything untoward. They remained totally unmoved by the frightful sequence of events that led to the horrific murder of the luckless boy Samiul Alam Rajon.
This callous unconcern of the so-called good people has been blasted by Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the Civil Rights Movements in the United States, who considered people's indifference to the needs of others more responsible for violent crimes in the society than the criminals themselves. It is, as the great leader says, "not merely the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, 'wait on time'?", the people of this generation have to repent.
This is the gospel truth about what happened in the Rajon killing incident. The 28-minute clip published online bears evidence of the fact that Rajon shouted so loudly that the whole neighbourhood could hear him, but none came to his rescue from the hands of the lynch mob. If the scene of his torture is fully videoed, it can be reasonable to assume that he had been badly battered for half an hour by the gang of thugs who played a cat-and-mouse game with him, denied him water to quench his last thirst and scared the living daylights out of him. Had anyone wished to save the little boy's life during the time he was being lashed, they would have jolly well been able to do that. But the piercing shriek of the dying boy and his death screams for help-all fell on deaf ears. His persecutors had had time enough to lynch him, video the scene and post it on the internet. They did everything at their leisure with no resistance to them offered by the local people or the law enforcement authorities. The local masses might have been happy with the exemplary punishment process of the dirty little street urchin accused of theft. It might have set their mind at ease that the successful completion of the punishment and its online coverage would be able to give a permanent remedy to the problem of burglary in the locality. Thus, the conservative mindset of the people developed against theft sometimes leads to killing frenzy or at least a stoical acceptance of persecution of the accused.
We saw the worst incident of killing frenzy by the lynch mob in the Aminbazar tragedy on 18 July 2011. It was an incident of mistaken identity in which six college students were beaten to death by locals on the outskirts of the capital on the night of Shab-e-Barat. As teenage students were hanging around there, the people of the locality, labeling them as 'robbers' and 'drug addicts' pounced on them and beat them to death. The hapless boys went down on bended knees and disclaimed the charges brought against them by the unruly mob, but their cries of terror went unheard. A police probe into the incident finally brought it to light that the youths were not robbers. What could be a worse cost of mob rule than this?
However, Rajon's murder case is far more dangerous than the mob rule. The whole process of lynching-from the capture to the kill-testifies to the fact that it is a cold-blooded murder! A justifiable homicide! The autopsy report proves that the little boy was brutally tortured and died due to brain haemorrhage after sustaining 64 injury marks in the whole body including serious head injuries. Is this deadly corporal punishment suitable to correct the juvenile offenders and the delinquent teenagers?
This is a deliberate act of killing and as far as the motive is concerned, it is to prove one's social position by the parade of power bought at great expense and fortified by prolonged impunity culture. It is one of the ugliest expressions of human psychology, sort of sadomasochism, which makes people take a perverted delight in watching others suffer. One of the prime accused, Kamrul, who has been an old-timer in Saudi Arabia, may have been suffering from the heat of money and some form of psychiatric disorder inherited from the Saudi. As a result, he may have tried to get a vicarious thrill of watching the child jockeys trembling in fear during the camel race out of watching Rajon in a tremble of fear as tied up and poleaxed. Kamrul might have also been influenced by the draconian Saudi convention of punishing the thieves and displaying the scene of punishment online to caution the potential thieves.
However, the perpetrators perhaps went beyond the limit. On the other hand, who knows, they may still be thinking of bringing circumstances under their control by dint of top dollar. Kamrul's recent fleeing into Jeddah has been allegedly bought for big bucks. There is every reason to be apprehensive that the accused will finally slip through the net. The accused in the Aminbazar student killing case have not yet served any sentence. These sorts of trials are dying the death due to legal procrastination. Therefore, it sometimes sounds hopeless looking forward to the punishment of Rajon's killers.
The brutal murder of Rajon has been the death of us. All people are not like the ones who did not stop the killers and allowed Rajon to accept death inflicted on him by some social beasts. There is no scarcity of people across the country to grieve for dead Rajon and sympathize with the bereaved. They have raised a storm of protest demanding the capture and the trial of the killers. All are speaking in one voice and trying to make it heard. They are asking the government to take the case to a special tribunal and deal out harsher sentences to the criminals so as to put a stop to this sort of gruesome child abuse. Rajon's death should be the last nail in the child abusers' coffin. His death shrieks had been silenced, but the voice of protest raised against his killers cannot be hushed up, for, his frightened face and soulful eyes will not make us be forgetful of him up until the killers and their accomplices are punished. Rajon's mother asked for 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' justice. Her wish finds an echo in the hearts and minds of millions of people. This is because we want not only a tit for tat judgment by the court on the Rajon murder case but also a strong child abuse prevention strategy. A Rajon's death would save many Rajons' lives!
Dr Rashid Askari writes fiction and columns, and teaches English literature at Kushtia Islamic University, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]