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Two deaths sent distinct messages to our conscience  

Published : Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1991
Observer special

Death is not merely physical, if we lose morale, humanity, love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. We fear that love and self respect in our society has taken a nosedive in recent times. Erosion of moral values has now become a matter of great concern.

Two particular deaths in recent days, of which one of a madrasha girl, has manifestly shaken the nation's morale and the other of a fire fighter has shown all are not lost in our values.. First, it was the death of fire-fighter Sohel Rana -- who died from serious injuries sustained while rescuing people from the Banani's FR Tower inferno, and second the gruesome burn-to-death incident of madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi.

Defying the deadliest of risks Rana valiantly went with his mission to save lives of people in danger.  Who knew that in a matter of minutes his life would fall into danger too? Even the state-of-the-art medical treatment in Singapore (as he was sent there on PM's initiative) could not save the courageous fire fighter. However, death does not compromise with anyone, but by embracing death the gutsy fire-fighter has set a glaring example of supreme sacrifice and pure professional obligation for his countrymen. Many millions of youngsters of today should get inspired from Sohel Rana's immolating his life for protecting the lives of others.

In fact, the true saviour of the FR Tower victims should have been the building owners. The culprit owner not only is responsible for 25 innocent lives, he is also responsible for Rana's death too. The second death is rather the opposite - it questions the very basic of our collective morality as a nation while slapping us right on the face in front of rest of the world.

Madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi lost her battle for life as she succumbed to her burn injuries caused by a group of cruel miscreants who had torched her alive. This unprecedented act of extreme brutality has touched off outrage all over the country. Moved by the outcry of people of all sections, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took a tough stand asking the law enforcing agencies to take stern actions against the killers. Meanwhile, Police Bureau  Investigation (PBI) has laready found involvement of 13 persons including Madrasa Principal Siraj Ud Dowla. PBI probe termed the burning of Nusrat as 'pre-planned.'  PBI is investigating the incident on the basis of the statement Nusrat gave before her death.

A victim of a revenge to silence her for protesting against sexual harassment by her madrasa Principal, Nusrat was taken to the terrace of the institution under false pretences and four individuals, wearing burkha, veils and gloves, set her ablaze with kerosene as she refused to withdraw the case filed against the Principal. In the long run, not only a victim of detestable revenge and cruelty, Nusrat was killed by a corrupt system. And we cannot escape our responsibility as a nation, since we too belong to that system. Her death surely has cast a slur on our society's moral values.

As we learn more about Nusrat's gruesome burn to death incident, it becomes evident that her life could have been saved, had appropriate action was taken against the accused Principal for his previous misconducts. The entire nation is now waiting to see what action is taken against the killers in view of the tough stand shown by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

We severely condemn the police official who did not cooperate with Nusrat's family as well as the loopholes in the legal system that allowed bail to the Principal in other cases. The accused was backed by a section of local influential leaders of the ruling party in Feni where few years back Upazila Chairman Ekram was killed and burnt alive. The real killer still remained unpunished. Such impunity led to more killings in the district during the last few years. Thus it is the same old story of individuals getting away with crimes because of their political clout and connections. The withdrawal of OC is not enough he should be given exemplary punishment so that it becomes an example to defend the image of the Police Department.

Even though the prime suspect of Nusrat's murder has been arrested, it will give no consolation to other students of that Madrasa and no guarantee that the female students will be safe from sexual assault and other forms of violence.

That's not all: the intensity of ruthless cruelty appears to have taken its toll in our society as young children as tender as seven, eight or nine are being physically assaulted countrywide. Nowadays cruelty against children has become an obnoxious syndrome of moral degradation and disorder that leading our society to moral bankruptcy.

However, every death delivers a message and the need of the minute is to draw lessons from the deaths of Sohel Rana and Nusrat Jahan Rafi. The need to reform our psyche, values and ethics is more than any time before. We don't want their deaths to go in vain like many thousands before. On one hand we must be encouraged for sacrificing our prized possessions for a greater cause while on the other we must address the rot that has taken place in our psyche.

Our Liberation War was not waged to witness such dreadful deaths and developments in an independent country. With each and every deplorable rape, murder, accident, carnage - the question now arise - is this the Bangladesh we had dreamt for? Why are we witnessing such moral degradation coupled with unparalleled cruelty shown to our children in recent times? Is this the Bangladesh our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman fought for? Few killers, handful of evil forces and immoral leaders should not be allowed to obliterate the positive gains accomplished by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Without targeting any particular class or group of people,  it's time for us to unite for the sake of sincere soul searching and find out what went wrong and what continues to go wrong in our conscience, moral and social as well as legal system. We must reform ourselves to exist as an ethical, civilised and a responsible nation.

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