Feature Img
Photo courtesy: alalodulal.org
Photo courtesy: alalodulal.org

Recently, two gang rapes took place – one in Delhi and the other in Rangamati. In the first case, a 23-year-old Delhi medical student was raped on a running bus on December 16 by six men and then was thrown off on the street. The victim later succumbed to her injuries and died in Singapore. In the second case, a Marma school-girl of class-eight was gang raped on December 21 in Rangamati. Three “Bengali settlers” raped the 14-year-old girl and then killed her. Both the incidents were quite symmetrical in its forms and consequences and thereby expected to trigger similar reaction and protests demanding commendable punishment of the perpetrators. However, shockingly it happened otherwise in the Rangamti case which unveils the unequal power-relations between the center and periphery as well as an ugly face of minority-majority politics prevalent in Bangladesh.

If we critically look at the forms and degree of demonstration taken place in reaction to these two cases, we would see quite a contrasting picture. In the Delhi case, activists, rights-workers, mass people of different professions, civil society representatives, NGO workers, politicians, general students of school, colleges and universities, various professional and occupational groups, in fact people from every corner of the society expressed their anger, grievances and exasperation. Print and electronic media came forward with sturdy criticism of state’s inability in protecting girls and women in India. The tide of protest was so forceful that Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president and chief of alliance government, with son Rahul Gandhi came out of the house and expressed solidarity with thousands of protestors. President Pranab Mukharjee complied with the emotion and anger of the demonstrators and expressed deep concern over the case. Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the issue making official statement before the nation and admitted the rationalization of people’s protest. In fact, Dr. Manmohan was compelled to pledge to take every necessary measure to ensure safety of girls and women across India in the face of increasing protests.

However in Bangladesh, we saw a completely contrary picture. Only Pahari Chatra Parishad (PCP) and Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) staged a small scale local demonstration by bringing out a procession in Rangamati on December 23. Then Marma Students Council (MSC), some adivasi students of Chittagong University, some Pahari NGO workers and Pahari rights activists formed a human chain in Rangamati on December 25. On December 28, a human chain was formed in the capital which was again organized by the Pahari rights activists. This is the extent of protest to the heinous crime committed against the underaged Marma girl.

No human rights organizations or notable activists made any official and formal statement demanding punishment of the perpetrators. None from the so-called civil society came forward and stood in protest against this deplorable crime. No NGOs made any protesting statement. The media too was quite silent on the issue – no exclusive coverage, hardly any update, no talk show whatsoever.

The silence in Bangladesh unlike that in India brings out a few critical questions to light. Why did the Rangamati case meet the state’s reluctance, media’s negligence and inactive role of the activists? Is it because it took place in the periphery rather than the center? Is Rangamati not a part of Bangladesh? Aren’t the adivasi people citizens of the country? Aren’t they entitled to justice as much as the plain-land people do? While the Indian president, prime minister and other political bigwigs became vocal about the rape and pledged justice to the Delhi victim; in Rangamati not even a local Union Parishad member or a chairman bothered to visit the victim’s family let alone the bigwig lawmakers.

But why such apathy? The answer is simple yet a bitter one. The victim — an adivasi — unfortunately does not belong to the mainstream community in the nation-state of Bangladesh. This is indeed the politics of cultural differences. When the state is not even ready to admit that there are any indigenous or adivasi people in Bangladesh, how do we expect that the state would address the matter of an adivasi rape-case with as greater concern as with others! Whereas the state’s exclusionary politics historically pushed the Pahari adivasi to the margin of the society, how could we expect the state to play its due role to provide justice to the adivasi girl? Whereas the print and electronic media are busy spending most of their energy, merit and strength to cover political circus taken place every day in the center (capital), it hardly has time to pay attentions to the periphery.

Historical evidences in fact reveal that Pahari women of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have regularly been tortured by Bengali settlers and security forces since the CHT was militarized by deploying forces in the late ‘70s and settler Bengalis were migrated to the region in the early ‘80s. Hardly any rape or murder case drew the state’s sincere and cordial attention and rarely any perpetrator was brought to book. Is it then wrong to assume that the state and state’s establishment have consciously chosen to play an arbitrary role towards oppression of the Pahari people?

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Rahman Nasir Uddin is an associate professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Chittagong. He is currently a visiting professor (as Alexander Humboldt Fellow) at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.

16 Responses to “Between Delhi and Rangamati: Contrasting display of protests”

  1. C. M Chakma

    It was a reality the situation of CHT. The government and other law enforce not to take any action against the rapist. That is why the rapist, not so afraid by doing rape to innocent girl. In this situation, the Emam community of Mosque can play a vital role to disseminating or speaking religious seminar in Friday and other special day. The rapist will be care about against such rape.

  2. Alo chakma

    Thanks to you and all who were really raise their voice against brutallity. As a social. being’s. we sometime behave as like as beast just to meet up ones need . Now we are in a civilized society and day by day onward. We should remind one things that we have also sister & brother.If it happen to your relatives then what your reaction about it. What happened it is ferocious & unhuminity. We all should come forward to protest this kind of poor activities as well. as to make sure womens safety from the state.

  3. Uurmy Rubina

    Nowadays rape has become so common. Stop rape, stop violence against women. Thanks sir for this really informative and much needed article.

  4. samir

    The way to stop the rapist !

    Drastic action to be taken by govt. without fail, excuse or question within 15 days:

    Hang the rapist!

  5. Professor Tuhin Islam

    Please suggest us how we could prevent it, how we can overcome it. Yes! here all of us should try to find out reason, reasons behind the reason, we should prescribe its prevention and obviously we could suggest in details towards our beloved nation to remove it from our society, from our country, from our earth. So only write-up for write-up’s sake is not expected. However, thanks all concerned who are feeling much on this issue. Thanks all.

  6. Syed Imtiaz Ali

    If we stop here at this stage rape and related other forms of sexual oriented ‘attacks’ will increase and get encouraged! We have to form FITTING law to be hanged once it is proved beyond doubt who the culprit/s is/are.
    Let this be worked out by rights body, civil society, or lawyers who represent battered women and girls. This should not stop until capital punishment is authorised by state.
    There are many other issues we do have to deal with but never can we be insensitive and hush it under the carpet. Instead of ‘move on’, we must start to MOVE towards a giving a very strong ‘death-signal’ to any future adventurers!
    Our Govt must take over from here and ensure EXEMPLARY punishment for rape.

  7. Alam

    Dear Rahman Nasir Uddin,
    You being an academician and your intellectual richness and as social scientist, your piece of Article demands more judicious analysis of our mental chemistry in this part of the globe increasingly dominated by uneducated mass people combined with poor/substandard socio-economic political strata under the canopy of so-called religion.
    Today’s news events on sexual violence of a Bangla paper:
    Gang raped school student of Tangail survived luckily, now under treatment;
    A college student gang raped at Savar, Dhaka;
    Anti social element broken both hands of a college student at Jhalokathi.
    But no serious protest in real term noticed.
    Demonstration of animality in our behaviour, directly or indirectly,has taken an ugly shape in our social transactions irrespective of any caste or group. This is the outcome of long Army Administration in this part which is still unthinkable in India despite presence of illiteracy and various social conflicts. Their social knit is strong, they could develop a worthy civil society. I salute decent role of Indian media in attaching such deplorable issue.
    LET’S HAVE MASS EDUCATION in our priority card AT LEAST UP TO SECONDARY LEVEL TO CREATE HEALTHY SOCIAL KNIT.

  8. Mozammel Haque

    Nasir Uddin wrote a right analogy of Delhi and Rangamati.
    Both girls are found to be tribal in origin.
    One is an adult and the Rangamati’s one is under-aged.
    One in India the other is in Bangladesh.
    Bangladesh has so many events of published or unpublished events like this. So public has developed a tradition to live with it.

  9. Rahman

    As a citizen of bangladesh and as a conscious human being i feel ashamed that we could not or did not even raise our voice to demand punishment for such a heinous crime. When the prime minister, foreign minister and many other political leaders of the present government and opposition party are women we can not accept this kind of apathy. I will request the above mentioned women political leaders to close their eyes once and feel the pain both (physical and mental) of being gang raped. If you feel bad then please feel the same way for this indigenous girl.

  10. Bimal Sharma

    Enough is enough. Please no more articles on rape. We had enough of it. There are other things happening in the world. Lets talk about those.

    • Masuma Haq

      Mr Sharma,
      So you think we or the media or bdnews24.com to be precise have talked enough about rape – the most violent torture that could be perpetrated on any woman anywhere. And that we should stop and move on?

      Sure! Till another incident of rape takes place let’s not talk about this topic anymore. But let me assure you that while I’m writing reply to your most ignorant and insensitive comment, quite a few women are being raped at home and abroad. You want to know the reason why? Because people like you get bored about hearing of it and try to shut up those who want to talk about this heinous crime to make people aware or try to keep the issue alive.

      But hey! What’s it to you! It’s an issue that doesn’t affect you in a negative way because representatives of your species are the ones who commit this brutal crime, and are never at the receiving end.

      All I can hope is bdnews24.com and this Opinion page are not run buy males like you. I hope to see more and more and more write-ups on rape – committed in Delhi, Rangamati, Tangail and wherever.

    • Tamanna

      NO!! Enough is enough about rape! Not on talking about it!

      Shame on you Bimal Sharma!

    • Zubair Chowdhury

      I don’t understand how someone could ask to stop posting articles on rape and move on! Move on!! While women in our country and elsewhere continue to be tortured and raped and violated!

      This is the major problem with people here in Bangladesh. They get bored about issues no matter how serious those are. Once an incident happens, all sorts of hue and cry is raised. But it dies down within a few days till another one takes place. If you don’t keep demanding justice till justice actually is served, then how would crimes like rape decrease?

      This page definitely should not stop posting articles on rape but should publish more and more on the topic and people from all walks of life instead of getting ‘bored’ should keep talking about it and force the authorities concerned to take steps to minimize crimes like this.

      The media and the general people both have the power to make the politicians take notice of things. All we need to do is stop getting ‘bored’ and the media should stop paying heed to people like Bimal Sharma!

    • Alam

      Mr Sharma,
      Possibly we have lost rational sense and prefer to demonstrate Animality, what I did mention before.
      Apparently, you have a life without heart which does not bleed on those inhuman violences…you are effectively dead one living around us.

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