Muhammad Q. Islam

Rest in Peace Biswajit

December 14, 2012

shariatpur bishajit (6)I live in the United States, in the comfort of a secure job, a warm house, travelling to work on roads that let’s me drive 30 KM in 25 minutes. I live with my children who go to publicly funded schools, run around with friends, morning, afternoon, evening, as children of their age should. And I live without fear.

Every once in a while, I turn on the radio or TV to hear the news: that there has been a shooting at a school in Colorado, a Temple in Wisconsin, and most recently, at a mall in Oregon. In almost all cases the work of a lone gunman, and often with no clear motive. When motive is found, it is often the case that anger is directed at a boss who fired him, a co-worker who insulted him, or a partner who left him. These senseless acts are no doubt very painful to the loved ones. But I don’t feel insecure because there is no protection from random occurrences; a lightning could hit me as well. And where motive is clear, I have no reason to be afraid. And I live without fear.

As I am accustomed to do, every day I go to the internet to read the daily newspapers from Bangladesh. Two days ago, I opened the newspapers and saw a series of pictures, of a young man, running in a blood soaked shirt, his terror filled eyes acknowledging that he could not escape, that his time has come. And I felt his fear. A fear I did not wish to acknowledge. I turned away; I protected myself. But Biswajit could not turn away and he must have tried mightily. I felt hope recede, replaced by despair. Hope, despair, fear..I am still able to feel, but not Biswajit. To think that the previous day both him and I shared the joy of seeing Bangladesh win an important game, and to think that on that fateful day, he was heading to work while I was returning from it. I made it safely home, while he lay dead in a pool of blood.

Who are these men whom we call murderers? My daughter is a student at a university here, just like these men are students at a university there. My daughter has had a middle-class upbringing, just like I did when I started going to the university years back. I have to assume that many of these young men also had similar upbringing. Brought up by parents who sat them down on their laps and affectionately talked to them, and who held their hands while walking them to school. I am 55. These men could be my sons, just like I was a son to my father, and just like Biswajit, whose life these men so nonchalantly snuffed out, was a son to his father. Nothing remarkable! And I wonder.

I wonder, what might have happened in their very short life, for they are young men by all accounts, that they could so easily surround a man and ruthlessly hack him to death? Where did they find the audacity to snuff out a life, take a son from his parents, a brother from his siblings? The audacity to kill, not surreptitiously in the darkness of night, but in broad daylight. With people watching. With cameras taking pictures. Some will surely blame a bankrupt political culture that holds no one responsible for moral transgressions; others will surely lay the blame solely on the moral depravity of the individual killers. The truth, if there is one to be found, I cannot so easily comprehend. And I am afraid that this killing will be repeated. And I live in fear.

It’s night now. I am in my safe cocoon. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and drive the 30 KM to work, and Biswajit will slowly recede into my memories. I will open the newspapers again, and Biswajit’s name there would have faded too, no longer mentioned on the front pages. There is no comfort in this, but I placate myself in this thought: Biswajit, you spent your last few minutes engulfed in fear. You have moved on. No longer attached to our transient self, wherever you reside, I am sure that you rest in peace. So rest in peace.

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Muhammad Q. Islam, is an Associate Professor of Economics, John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University, USA.

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17 Responses to “ Rest in Peace Biswajit ”

  1. Ekram Alam on December 17, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    We need a change in our mindset and stricter law to curb heinous crimes like this. But who has the guts to punish the ‘Shonar Cheler Dal’!

  2. Tahir on December 17, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    How can Biswajit rest in peace when his killers are not brought to justice!

  3. shahriar on December 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

    AA Quamrul bhai.
    watching the video on youTube over and over makes you wonder not only about the killers but also the environment and people – it almost looks like a movie shooting going on – actors doing their action sequence and audiences around to watch and enjoy the shots – the only person not enjoying Biswajit.

    When people do not fear law and order such events are bound to happen and will continue to happen.

    Very sad. If possible, we should collect some money and help his family – Just a senseless murder…

  4. sohel on December 16, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Nice write up Mr. Islam..I share the same pain and fear..but the answer to yr open question: ‘Where did they find the audacity to snuff out a life, take a son from his parents, a brother from his siblings? The audacity to kill, not surreptitiously in the darkness of night, but in broad daylight.’ Bikash(a top criminal) was freed from a jail by the order of top-brass of home secretariat under top confidentiality (without even informing police) as according to a local Bangla daily. Similar things happened before…we continue to nourish a culture where a crimminal can do whatever they like under a top party banner, as they know the law won’t refrain them from carrying out criminal acts …the country with so much prospect to shine is, sorry to say/see, heading towards darker days…

  5. suja on December 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Beautiful, Quamrul Bhai. Quite difficult to come to terms with this gruesome event. I am also wary of the shootings in the US. What sort of society is the socio-economic-political machine producing?

  6. russel on December 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    The US is not so secure either. The Connecticut shooting where 20 children were killed is one such glaring example.

    • mohammad zaman on December 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Russel Shahib also needs to realize that in the US, rule of law triumphs everything. US is very secure. I naan, very very secure.

      • Iqbal Hasan Chowdhury on December 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm

        Rule of law triumphs in the US! Mr Zaman, you must be kidding me! Mr Russel is completely right, though US is far more democratic than many other nations especially Bangladesh, rule of law doesn’t triumph there.

        And please! After the Connecticut shooting, please don’t talk about the US being a secure country! Give it a break.

        • Md. Zahirul Hoque Mozumder on December 18, 2012 at 2:50 am

          Mr. Zaman is very much correct. Though killing of innocent school children and their teachers in Connecticut is condemnable in any sense but what is the US authority’s response to this event? In most of the cases of such shooting, the US authority declares the gunman to be dead by his own shooting. Same happened to the Connecticut school children killer. Most probably the US authority fears to produce such person before the court so that his grievances and criticism about the US society doesn’t come out in public. They had bitter experience of producing Oklahoma bomb attacker Tim Macvy before court, who blamed the US intervention throughout the world for his cause of attack.

          In the case of Connecticut School shooting, the US authority is analyzing the psyche of the killer. But, if he were of Islamic faith, it would haven taken a brief moment to declare him as a terrorist. CNN and FOX news would give “breaking news” or “developing story” – “Muslim terrorist attacks Connecticut School”.

          In fact the USA is a society with triple standard. They have one standard for their white people and other for their own black and the third one for rest of the world. They see the world as “we” and “others”. In such a society justice cannot prevail. Injustice is prevailing there in the USA from first settlement there till date and started by ethnic cleansing of indigenous Red Indian people, forced occupation of Mexican territory to wage war throughout the world to uphold their Neolithic “Hunting and Gathering” philosophy.

          Even if one keeps aside the international issues, if anyone surveys the colour of prisoners in US prisons, it will become obvious to what extent justice prevails there in the USA.

          • Md. Zahirul Hoque Mozumder on December 18, 2012 at 2:58 am

            Mr. Zaman is told correct in satiric sense. I forgot to give an exclamation sign or there should be a special sign for “satire” in English (Roman) grapheme.

        • sohel UK on December 18, 2012 at 8:50 am

          there is no reason to debate on the issue whether US or BD is more safer than on another…both killings were horror shows out of the world..and just shows how peace/dreams can be broken by a few..
          This is prime time time for Obama and Co to fight back against the gun lobby and law..while in BD, we need to wait to see more of the same…!

        • M Rahman on December 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

          You are completely wrong sir. Rule of law still triumphs in U.S.A. It is not like nobody is getting away committing crimes. Many people are getting away committing crimes for lack of proof. But I am pretty sure that nobody will go unpunished here in U.S.A committing crimes openly as it is seen in Bangladesh. In the wonderland of Bangladesh MP of ruling party remains MP and keeps serving the country by embezzling money, grabbing others land after killing someone in broad day light. Prime minister tries heart and soul to save her powerful minister even though the powerful institution like world bank provides proof of bribery. In U.S.A hundreds of Governor,Senator,congressman of ruling party have lost their positions and served time for small crimes like taking gifts, traveling in others expense and giving undue advantage in return. Let me give you an example of American rule and moral and social values of America and American politicians. During the recent storm(Sandy)many places of couple of states lost power. Trees were uprooted,homes were destroyed. It took couple of days to bring power back. The governor and lieutenant governor of New Jersey also lost power and they got their power back like other ordinary people when their turn came. They didn’t flex their muscle and try to influence the power company to get their power back before others. Rather they were working day night and showing their anger and frustration for other people. You are talking about Connecticut shooting. It is an incident occurred by a mentally disturbed person. This type of incident happened in the past and will happen in future. It does not mean America is an unsafe place. We don’t have to escort our children to school day in day out.

  7. M Rahman on December 15, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Hasina is always talking about the trial of war criminals who committed crimes four decades ago. But she is not trying any of her party members crimes they commit almost at regular intervals. We want the war criminals to be tried but we also want the criminals who are committing heinous crimes to be tried as well.

  8. Md. Zahirul Hoque Mozumder on December 15, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Dear Professor, this is what slain Biswajit got as reward to his run to save his life in a blood soaked shirt — an obituary by a professor of Economics, teaching in the USA. So lucky he is. It is not sure whether the family of Biswajit will get justice. But they will definitely feel happy that such a learned person spent some words for their son. Oh, how deep red was his blood! If the shirt could be of green color, it would be a nice flag of Bangladesh. Sir, thanks to you that despite having a secured life there in USA, you have shown your concern about broad daylight brutality — killing of an innocent young man before camera. You have expressed your confession being in far USA but what those people will confess to court or at least to their conscience that none of them came forward to save Biswajit. Journalists took video footage and photographs as if it is a film shooting.

    The truth came out through the writing of Latif Quader in the same opinion column titled WHAT KILLED BISWAJIT?– “Biswajit is also a victim of our indifference and cowardice; inability to take a moral stand in the face of adversity. This self-oriented behaviour pattern is also the outcome of a society where morality has taken a downward trend ever since we lost our faith in the social system to set things right. When everything that is good, morale and perceived to be right are being manipulated and abused for personal gain and it continues to be so unabatedly, and then wrong becomes right. Inwardly we build self defence mechanisms that keep us silent and ineffective without losing our sleep.” No doubt, unbearable, naked truth. Thanks to you sir for a good piece of writing.

  9. Mohammad Zaman on December 15, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Qamrul Bhai, I can feel your sobbing heart … So well written…

    My brother-in-law posted the pictures of last moments of Bishwajit in facebook; I just do not have the stomach to look at those …

    I am glad that I no longer subscribe the Deshi TV Channels.

    You know the children of the prime movers in BD do not live in BD. They live in their “bubble universe” with all the gadgets of western civilization or they do not live in BD at all.

    May be this is why these events do not touch their heart – if they still have any!!

  10. Naushad Jamil on December 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    This message is for Mr. Muhammad Q. Islam,

    First I don’t read a lot. Second I rarely read news or opinions from Bangladesh. I saw Biswajit’s event unsolicitedly in facebook when I opened it. I immediately turned my face away yet I couldn’t sleep two nights.

    I was only feeling anger.

    Your message above does not show anger. Only show how lucky you are and how unfortunate Biswajit was.

    I relate strongly to your emotions and I loved the way you put it without anger.

    Just like a decayed tooth is usually quickly fixed by uprooting we probably need solutions like that. I don’t know what can be done to install decency and some civil sense to Bangladesh. I am out of thoughts and words.

    Thank you very much!

  11. Populist on December 14, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    The Biswajit issue should be a big embarrassment for this government. What appalled me the most was the reaction of our government which has been trying to shield its Chhatra League goons. The Home Minister, and later the PMO have blatantly propagated lie about the whole case, when evidences are stark regarding the identity of the murderers. The Home Minister has recently lost his son; he should have at least been more empathetic towards Biswajit’s family and refrained from turning it into a petty political issue. This issue may turn costly for the ruling coalition in the next general election in 2013.

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