Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov in ‘Crime and Punishment’ and BUET’s Abrar Fahad
Nowadays, many crucial incidents including "murders" are hitting the headlines in Bangladeshi newspapers and the culture of impunity inspires these crimes to be continued. Somehow this is becoming out of control because of abusing the power, weak law and some other vital reasons. If I start with what happened to Abrar Fahad, would be an important issue to write.
This Monday morning started with a news where a BUET student named Abrar Fahad was found dead in his hostel. After autopsy, Dhaka Medical College Hospital representative said that he died of "internal bleeding and excessive pain" as he was badly beaten up by blunt objects like cricket stumps or bamboo sticks. He had enough "extensive bruises" on his hands, legs and back.
Recently I was reading about Russian literature and I wrote a column for a newspaper in the title, "Voicing against Autocracy in Russian Literature". While I was going into it, my mind was caught in Feodor Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment (1866)' for its solid story with an intellectual theme, and its leitmotif inspired me to relate some Bangladeshi incidents with the story.
In that story, an impoverished student named Raskolnikov expects that he is an extraordinary young man and he believes that a person of his type has the right to commit any crime. This dangerous theory leads him to murder an old lady moneylender and pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanova and also her stepsister Lizaveta Ivanovna to test his philosophy.
A lot happens before the punishment at the end. Raskolnikov confesses to the murder and he is sentenced to imprisonment for eight years in a Siberian prison. The story ends with his dual personality that is the controlling idea behind the crime and his punishment.
He symbolizes the modern Russian intellectual whose fate is complicatedly bound up with the fate of Russia itself. This story may thus be viewed as a parable of the fate of a nihilistic and skeptical youth in nineteenth-century Russia, whose materialism and revolutionary opinions Dostoevsky hated and feared.
However, Abrar Fahad's tragic end reminds me of the story of Raskolnikov, and some crimes that recently happened in Bangladesh. What happened in Barguna was really ferocious. Let me talk about Rifat's murder that shocked us on June 26, 2019. He was perilously assaulted and killed with sharp weapons by a group of young men, mainly by two local scoundrels named Noyon and Rifat who pounced on him on a street in front of lot of people, even in front of his wife.
If we recollect a little back, in Sylhet, another vicious attack took place with a sharp object on a college student named Khadiza Begum Nargis by Badrul Alam, a former leader of a political party of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology unit on October 3, 2016. A police officer's innocent wife named Mahmuda Khanam Mitu was also murdered by two unknown murderers in Chattogram on June 5, 2016.
Another mysterious case is known as the Sagar-Runi murder case: two well-known journalists were brutally killed at their apartment on 11 February 2012. The case is still pending to charge-sheet filing although the DNA testing produced a strong clue that it was possible two men were involved in the murder.
A little more back, a 24-year-old Hindu tailor named Biswajit was hacked to death by some political activists from Jagannath University unit on December 9, 2012, in Dhaka. They attacked him with machetes, iron bars, and hockey sticks and killed him ruthlessly on the street in front of many people. Political power, belligerent attitude, and many other reasons are found in these types of murders. All these are happening in front of the people while they are silent to protest. But why?
Reading through different newspapers what I found is, mass people actually know most of these criminals but still predict that these criminals must have a connection with the powerful leaders and politicians. So, they never take the risk to protest against any attacker, rather they keep silent, watch it from a safe distance, sometimes they record the incident only to spread on social media thinking that their duty is done. However, is the duty really done?
By the way, let me relate these Bangladeshi incidents with Dostoevsky's novel. When Fahad was taken from his room by some Chhatra League leaders, his mobile was searched and they found that Fahad liked some Facebook pages and posted something on his personal Facebook wall that were opposite to their views. Just for this, they beat him with blunt objects like cricket stumps or bamboo sticks and made him a dead body within few minutes. Found stumps with blood are the proof of how dangerously he was murdered for a silly reason. How silly! How easy it is to kill someone like way Raskolnikov did in the story.
The way Rifat's murder happened in Barguna was really violent as the murderers were chopping a human body in front of a crowd while everyone was silent. They had a political connection that led them to do this job so fearlessly. They had no fear of punishment as Raskolnikov thinks he has the right to do any crime in the novel. How violently they killed someone!
In my comparison, Raskolnikov's theory led another so cold lover Badrul Alam to attack his nominated girl Khadiza Begum Nargis in Sylhet. He did that job very treacherously in the area where the girl is from. He thought that he also had the right and power like Raskolnikov to expect anything from the girl as he was a former leader of a political party. How powerful he thought he was!
The murder of the police officer's wife in Chattogram was on the street near her residence. The killers obviously thought like Raskolnikov that there would not be any punishment for this, so this time they dared to kill a police officer's wife even. How dangerously powerful they are!
These people are more dangerous than Raskolnikov as they killed two well-known journalists in front of their lovely son in Dhaka. They were so confident with unknown background power to make this mission successful. They knew that they would remain safe after this cruel murder. As they are not caught yet, they might be laughing and thinking that they had the right to kill in such a way that Raskolnikov has in the novel.
One of the most gruesome killings took place when Biswajit was attacked on the street. The violent students who were involved in this mission were from a student wing of the government party. Maybe, we can assume what was their power to make this mission successful. They thought that they had the right like Raskolnikov to kill someone. How dangerous!
However, people like Raskolnikov are increasing rapidly in Bangladesh thinking that they have the power to kill anyone, as most of the time; the murderers enjoy impunity for a long time. This is the high time to stop it; otherwise, the plot of the novel will be reestablished in Bangladesh, the people who think like Raskolnikov will be produced every day and murder will be a regular habit in this country.
The writer was a Fulbright TEA Fellow, Fall 2018, Montana State University, USA.
He writes on contemporary issues, education, and literature