The Financial Express

Staving off urban teen gangs  

| Updated: February 24, 2021 22:02:02

Staving off urban teen gangs   

The incident of killing an adolescent boy in the city by 8-10 members of a group can be passed off by many as an instance of mindless brutality. But it smacks of a menace, the root of which goes deeper than could be realised. Killings of the kind mentioned above occur nowadays frequently in different areas of city. Due to their repetitive nature, lots of people have become inured to these violent acts. Mostly 'muhalla'-based, the offenders orchestrating these acts belong to different groups or gangs. They work under a 'boss' or a couple of influential 'borobhais' with links to highly placed quarters. The grisly hacking to death of the youth by teenagers belonging to 16-17 age-group starkly points to the extent to which their acts of perverse derring-do have reached lately.

The brutal killing that took place recently in the city's Manda involved a petty printing press employee and a group of teenage musclemen. The lone youth's offence was his refusal to greet a senior member of the group with a 'salam'. According to media reports, it infuriated the gang members so much that they swooped down on the baffled teenager with lethal weapons leading to his death. The area of operation of the gang is located in the city's Mugda area. Apart from involvement in hostilities with other groups over dominance in many areas and in-fighting on trivial issues, these gangs vitiate the atmosphere in different neighbourhoods of the city. As seen in the large cities abroad, their likes in Bangladesh have also long been jeopardising peace of the citizenry.

Although the city-based protracted gang warfare has yet to take root in the country, ominous signs of their creeping into the urban areas continue to surface quite often. Besides the central areas, the capital's fast expanding suburban areas have lately begun experiencing the reign of terror unleashed by the teenage gangs. Apart from their raucous presence in many characteristically quiet areas, these gangs are now seen engaging in assorted offences --- not excluding odious crimes. Many of them allegedly are drug addicts or take pleasure from open and rowdy drunkenness. A couple of years ago, few such groups coming from the families of nouveaux  riches robbed neighbours of their night's sleep in a northern residential area in Dhaka. Police action following series of media reports could bring the unwieldy situation under a semblance of control. Media outlets have long been exposing the state of Chittagong, the port city, which is also now infested with large and smaller gangs.

Thanks to the prolonged closure of schools and colleges prompted by Covid-19 pandemic, newer gangs have apparently sprouted in different parts of the city. It brings to mind the universal proverb, "an idle brain is the devil's workshop". Notwithstanding the amateurism of the new gangs, it's a matter of time for many of their members to finally remain stuck in the labyrinth of professional gang operations. All this presages a frightening turn of things. This can in no way be allowed to happen in this volatile time of the nation, with life in the large cities plagued by many unforeseen scourges. In order to keep at bay the advances made by this social curse, a well-thought-out and scientifically planned strategy ought to be in place without delay. The all-out cooperation of the law enforcement agencies, sociologists, academics, wise old men, and, even, former gang leaders, is imperative to this corrective job.

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