On the eve of the International Women's Day, this city was witness to a number of sexual assaults on girls. In one such incident a girl student forced to walk on because of scarce transports was encircled by about 20 youths. She had been molested, before a policeman came to her rescue. So outraged and traumatised was the girl, she wrote on social sites that she would not live in this country any more, she will leave this country come what may. She outpoured, naturally, her revulsion against girl molesters. Those who molest girls are beasts, she commented. Later on she removed her message on consideration that her message was used for political expediency by some quarters.
Another university student was completely drenched by water thrown from bottles in front of the Institute of Fine Arts, Shahbag. In yet another incident, another girl was encircled by youths in the same manner of the first girl who posted the message. She was also subjected to prying hands from all around. Her orna (outer covering of garments) was snatched at one point. She complained that the police standing nearby played the role of silent spectators. How she could free herself from the sexual aggressors is not detailed.
These incidents were the outcome of mob mentality. Accusing fingers have been pointed to a section of youths who participated in the processions leading to the Suhrawardy Uddyan. Usually, there is a tendency to assemble a mammoth crowd by all political parties, particularly by the major ones, at their meetings or other celebrations. There is no harm in digging in their grassroots following. But for long, political parties have started hiring people of the lower classes usually from slums to prove their emphatic support.
The Wednesday's was such an august occasion that it could very well dispense with any such manoeuvring. But apparently it was not. There were many who joined the processions without knowing what the historic 7th March speech meant and its international significance. Their concern was anything but the pride associated with the celebration. Many were found busy collecting biryani packets and running helter skelter in the streets closed for vehicles. They loitered in and around Shabag area or even further away at Bangla motor or Plassey or Kakrail. Their main goal was not to attend the function. Many left without reaching the venue.
One thing is unmistakeable that many of these groups are not politically oriented. The hired groups acted like gangs in some places. Genuine participants in the function could be more than the venue accommodates. There was no need for competition between local leaders to outdo each other in terms of their capacity to pull supporters. They overdid it and there was none to discipline the wayward.
It is a pity that on a day when the nation had everything to gain from the occasion, a few rogues prowled on unsuspecting girls. This was again the day before the International Women's Day. Quite a mockery indeed! Both occasions should be celebrated in a joyous mood. But the brutes brought the occasions to disrepute.
Part of the blame must be shared by the student organisations of the political party. Whenever a party goes to power, its student and sister organisations are pampered. What happens is that at some point aberration invades and idealism takes a back seat. Student organisations have brought disrepute to the main political parties and still no one learns any lesson. This is unfortunate. Working as followers of the student organisation of the ruling party in particular is challenging because they have to set example of responsibility and care for others. All this is not happening of late. Unless the tendency of highhandedness can be reversed for caring and sober leadership, it will continue to send a wrong message for the uninitiated and unenlightened.
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