The Financial Express

Stop the culture of 'mob justice'!  

| Updated: November 03, 2020 21:11:31

Stop the culture of 'mob justice'!   

Another person has fallen victim to the outrage called 'mob justice'! This time an unsuspecting man of 50 named Abu Muhammad Shahidunnabi Jewel was beaten indiscriminately and then burnt to death by a frenzied mob! The excuse for unleashing the demonic mob fury on a helpless individual was, as the rumour has it, he did something that was 'sacrilegious'!

The gory incident took place last week on Thursday (October 29) at the Briary land-port in the northern border district of Lalmonirhat.  The victim, a former librarian, teacher and father of two along with his friend went to Burimarion that fateful evening. The story about what exactly happened later that led to this horrifying tragedy is rather sketchy and confusing. An attendant of the Burimari central mosque is reported to have said that Jewel, the victim, went into the mosque to search for what the attendant said, 'firearms allegedly hidden behind the religious books' in the mosque's bookshelf.   And while doing so, the story further goes, he somehow 'desecrated the holy Koran'. 

It is also said that he claimed to be a member of the elite police force, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab). It is questionable if he had at all made such a claim and, if so, it is also not understandable why he would resort to such a lie! In fact, the circumstances of the tragedy are quite cloudy, a jumble of misleading hearsay, half-truths and, perhaps, outright lies!

But the truth is that the helpless, somewhat demented, man had to pay the ultimate price for the rumour.  The people present around the scene of incident first dragged the man out and started beating. A member of the Burimari Union Parishad (UP) intervened and took the victim and his friend to the UP office and confined them there. But the rumour that the victim had 'desecrated the holy Koran' spread like wildfire. Thousands of locals thronged the scene. A mass hysteria gripped the crowd. And the rest is history.

But what could be gathered later about the person from his family members is baffling. The victim was a very pious Muslim and offered prayers five times a day. Then how could he possibly do such a thing, as rumoured, that goes against his faith?  He was also learnt to be mentally disturbed since he lost his job as librarian a year ago from Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College.

What was then the real issue behind the shocking incident? It is up to the law-enforcement department to untangle the truth.

Going by what the victim's sister, Lipi Begum, said, no one of his family members knew if he was going to Burimari that day.   

Evidently, the mob could carry out the mindless savagery so easily because he was, in all probability, a complete stranger at the locality (Burimari). And being mentally unstable, he was unable to defend himself by talking rationally with the excited mob that gathered around him.  And it helped the rumour-mongers, especially those among them who might have an agenda, to add fuel to the fire by branding him as a 'heretic'!

To be a mentally disturbed person and a stranger at the same time is too dangerous in today's society where the truth is buried under the garbage of canards fed relentlessly by the social media. One may recall the tragic end of a fortyish, mentally disturbed single mother, Taslima Begum Renu, more than a year back near the UttarBaddaGovernmentPrimary School. She, too, was mercilessly beaten to death by a mob suspecting her to be a child-lifter! She too was not familiar with other guardians of children present there. So, being a stranger as well as mentally disturbed person cost her dearly.

There should be a stern law against this culture of 'mob justice'. Committing such crimes against humanity under the guise of 'crowd anonymity' must be stopped.


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