Afsan Chowdhury

Sagar-Runi murder case, Mahfuzur Rahman and a place called Bangladesh

June 10, 2012

DN_Sagor_Runi-300x225The ugly smell from the Sagar-Runi murder case continues to rise and it’s probably going to get much worse. This painful, unsavoury and ultimately cruel episode refuses to die down no matter how much it is tried by the powerful. Ever since the dual murder took place, it has become the most sordid manifestation of just what is wrong with Bangladesh governance. It’s not just a law and order failure but says much about the general decay of the state. We don’t think this could have happened in any other country in South Asia except Pakistan where most systems have given away due to the Afghan conflict related issues.

No matter what, the facts of the case and how it was suppressed will come out one day — filthy dribble by filthy dribble — but by then whatever little confidence people may have in the institutional process of justice delivery — so badly damaged already — may well be entirely gone. We don’t deserve this, this we have got in the name of Bangladesh.

* * *
Ever since it became obvious that someone or a certain group/s was trying to pervert the course of the investigation particularly after Shahara Khatun’s ‘solution within 48 hours’ remark, the pressure was high on the police. So the police leaked a lot of information to the media hoping that it will understand that the fault is not theirs. Maybe much if not most of the information were false and self-serving but who is to judge that? In the absence of any official action, it’s such information that led to a huge mine of (mis)information feeding public interest in the event. This will not go away even if people think there should be no speculation. It’s the suppressors who are responsible for the mess.

* * *
To this have been added the ATN channel owner Mahfuzur Rahman’s remarks that the murder was caused due to the extramarital affair of Runi and there is also a video footage which explains the issue. As expected there was an outcry and call for punishment of Rahman mostly by the journalists. But till date nothing has happened to him and the authorities have not made any response to his remarks which is a mystery.

But it has sparked off more rumours and speculations including on the contents of the tape. Some are saying it has intimate scenes which will damage the reputation of the couple while others are saying that it contains interview(s) identifying the killer(s). As the facts have not been known such speculations will come flooding in.

* * *
The management of this case by the government has been suicidal as far as the government’s trust and confidence is concerned. It was not just the police who was involved. As things got almost comically absurd regarding progress of the case, the RAB got involved, the supposed solver of all crimes, fair means or foul. They dug up the hugely decomposed bodies and found god-knows-what when it was already established that both had had died of knife wounds. But one wonders why RAB was brought in since it’s not an investigating agency but a pursuit and arresting one. Meanwhile the courts also got involved and issued directives and declared itself to be very keen about the solution. Till date nothing has happened.

Nothing has happened except bringing down the prestige of all the agencies and institutions involved whether it’s the court police or RAB indicating all three are ineffectual.

* * *
Prof_Abdullah-Abu-SayedBut this case, the supreme symbol of what is wrong in the Bangladesh governance system is not the only example by which we can track what is going on. Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed affair is a good reminder of how the MPs can get together and attack a man of integrity and achievement without any basis or proof. What shocks most is that the AL MPs used the BNP-Jamaat leaning daily Inquilab as a source for their information to hurl abuses at the honourable and respected Professor.

Having asked for his trial and then later having been proved wrong and scolded by the Speaker, they have chosen silence when they should have apologised to Prof. Sayeed. They could also have pondered if anybody from the outside can ruin their reputation when they are quite capable of doing it themselves. Just ask what people think of them now.

* * *
So attacks on media are halal because it really doesn’t matter how law enforcement works once the system starts going belly up. It’s also easy to blame every critic as anti-social, anti-liberation and anti-state knowing this gets all cheers and scares people. Even when people critique a part of the energy policy the critics are described as ‘anti-state’. This means the government and the state are perceived as the same.

But it’s the deeper malady that scares us which is centred on national elections and agitation. Effectively, politics has been banished to the street from the parliament and while one provides form, it’s the street that is supplying the content. What happens is that when the parliament exists but matters are decided on the streets of political activism, the official, legal and systemic architecture that holds up the state begins to totter. It means we have not really graduated into a system where debate and discussion supported by the rule of law prevails over stones and bonfires. Since that is not the case it seems we are not up to parliamentary democracy.

* * *
The responsibility of having functional parliament may be too much for us and our leaders who have so little experience in governing by the rule of law. One is therefore not sure if we can have legal process based arrangements for any aspect of governance. So whether it’s running the parliament or running a murder investigation, we can’t do it following due process. The problem is in the system which we neither understand nor like. Both one-party rule and the subsequent martial law fattened by over 20 years of a boycotted parliament have robbed us of any capacity we may have developed in this direction. Why have a parliament with debates and rule of law which we are so uncomfortable with when governments changed on the street. The street suits us and the dysfunctional parliament is good for looking good but which one-party always boycotts when not in power.

* * *
Will the Sagar-Runi murder case be solved? Many think most likely not because too much time has already been spent in not doing anything. It has involved far too many people and even if now things come out too many questions can be raised about who suppressed the facts and why. But without a clear disclosure the system will suffer from further damage.

In the end, in this land of broken law and order systems, economic anarchy and political chaos where everything can be bought or organised, it’s luck rather than a legal protection and safety system that keeps us alive till we are brought down.

The Sagar-Runi murder crisis began long before the killers’ knives were plunged. It began the day we bought the idea that political convenience is more important than the value of the state.

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Afsan Chowdhury is the Executive Editor of bdnews24.com.

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22 Responses to “ Sagar-Runi murder case, Mahfuzur Rahman and a place called Bangladesh ”

  1. S.M. Tofazzel Hossain on June 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I would like to believe that our investigating agencies will find a way out for justice. I do not like to mix up it with all other cases . Police failure is reported which is negative image of the force. RAB -the specialized police forces, is deployed and they are working on and we would keep faith on their dedication. We do not like to see trial like 10 truck arms smuggling case or Rajakar trial after long delay. We are waiting to hear a good news of finding a clue by RAB. It is an image issue for the elite force who have many success stories in detaining organized criminals. The little child of Runi and Sagor who saw the vivid killing of his parents should see the justice .

  2. Jewel Haque on June 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This nothing new of Mahfuz. He created an outcry by calling Sylheti [and others who don't speak proper Bengali] ‘Obhodro’! The thing about this ‘guy’ is he cannot even put two Bengali sentences together without mixing Shadbu and Cholito bhasha, and his speech etc are so bloody irritating. I think Mahfuz and few others like him should be interrogated/questioned.

  3. Boby on June 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    If Mahfuzur Rahman escapes after giving interview in London then we will presume that he has strong backing behind him. RAB and other organisations should detain him to find out clues in this case.

  4. Rezaul Karim on June 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

    What the VIPs like the MPs, speaker and the ATN owner say is very important and forceful. It is very difficult and embarrassing for them to take back the words. Our honourable Speaker may be showing in his own manner that there are forces stronger than the parliament in the country. Sedition, contempt and MLR are very strong words.

    Media people and journalists are very happy to uphold the cause of democracy and politics. Statistics show that the media gets the biggest bashing during democratic governments. The autocratic Ershad regime used to deal with the media in a very respectable manner and gave many perks like plots in Mirpur and Tejgaon. But then there can be no progress without democracy. What is all that going on in China and Vietnam?

    As for the ATN owner; he is still not out of the woods.

    • Boby on June 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      It very clear now that nothing will happen to Sagar/Runi murder case. Our law enforcing authorities are not interested to find out the criminals. This will encourage criminals to act more viciously. I am shocked at the attitude of the people involved in the investigation as they seem quite clueless even after 4 months of the murder. As a citizen of Bangladesh, I wonder what will happen to us if calamity like this befall us. Our home minister told that within 48 hours the culprits will be caught but alas it was mere words and nothing else. No serious action has been taken so far. Now we leave it to Allah for the trial of Sagar/Runi in the heaven. May Allah give courage to Megh to bear the loss of his parents.

  5. Mohammad Zaman on June 11, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Sagor-Runi case is being supervised by the omnipotent PM — at least as per the news reports. And her track record for success is not that great…

  6. Andaleeb on June 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I completely agree with the writer and equally baffled at why RAB was brought in. It is not a detective branch, but a law enforcing agency. This is indeed a bizarre country.

  7. Minar Haq on June 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    That we expected justice will be served and the criminals punished show what fools we are. We actually deserve what we get — an apathetic government that doesn’t seem at all caring about the law and order of the country and most importantly the safety of its citizens.

  8. Taimur on June 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I want to see how long it takes for everyone to forget about this murder and vote AL again to power so that we can have Shahara Khatun as our home minister yet again.

  9. Kiswaar on June 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Can anyone tell me why such circus is going on centring this murder?

  10. Anwar Hussain on June 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I just feel so sorry for little Megh. He will probably never see his parents’ killers punished.

  11. Nasir on June 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Does the AL realise what harm this has done to the government’s reputation? Clearly they don’t.

  12. Abdul Awal on June 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    The home minister Shahara (not Indian Sahara) said that the murder case of Sagar-Runi was being specially handled/ monitored by the prime minister herself. We must understand what she wanted to say. I think she wanted to say that the ball is in the court of the prime minister. All other people in Police, RAB or DB hands up. What do you think?

  13. Moinul on June 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    This Mahfuzur Rahman is one interesting character I must say. But how can he get away making such comments?

  14. Shamsuddin Halder on June 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    The arrogance Mahfuzur Rahman showed in his comments is really surprising. What’s more surprising is the law enforcing agency’s silence over it.

  15. Sabbir Haq on June 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    What is the Author is trying to achieve from this write-up. Is he expecting the government would, after reading this post, take actions and right the countless wrongs that have been committed since this murder took place? Believe me nothing will happen. Nothing.

  16. Andaleeb on June 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    This is indeed a hapless country where criminals go scot free and the respected ones are humiliated and castigated.

    • Ali on June 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Sounds like it has been quoted from a scripture, because we are ALL so familiar with this social philosophy of ours, for so many decades now!

      But who makes the nation and the country? It is we the inhabitants/citizens. So, we are ourselves perverse and TIMID to take any action against any wrong-doing, even murder!

  17. tanvir on June 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I can’t believe that Mahfuzur Rahman could make such a comment and get away with it. Either he submits proof of his allegations or I demand he be taken to custody and interrogated.

  18. shams on June 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    The home minister is a complete failure. This murder mystery will never be solved and the culprits won’t ever be brought to justice.

  19. aman on June 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Nothing will happen. No one will be brought to justice.

  20. Go lam Arshad on June 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Afsan:Bizarre and deeply painful. Justice! Justice!

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