By: Elora Zaman
Bangladesh, a tiny country, is going through a lot these days; so many things are happening there everyday that one can easily loose tracks. However, a particular event needs attention in my opinion. Harassing and beating a university teacher is not an insignificant thing, especially when it takes place in the context of current emotion-based political issues. Such a phenomenon would drive us to the dark age of ignorance and injustice. Such a task, if it will be left unattended and untreated, would only make a rotten society of us.
Ahmad Safa, a renowned Bangladeshi intellectual, once said, the nation is halted for one year if the university is closed for one day. Teachers are the architects of the society. So the question is, why they are prohibited from thinking freely, and expressing their opinion honestly and openly in current Bangladesh in the hands of the so-called freethinkers and liberals?
Good governance is strongly associated with good and proper education. Good educators are essential in the society for manufacturing good citizens and honest human beings, who will be capable of establishing and maintaining good governance. In our society, these educators are being harassed and beaten by political thugs, and those thugs get their shelter from the government. This is a greatest irony.
Last week, some students beat Jahangir Alam, a professor of the Civil Engineering Department in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, BUET, in the campus, even inside a classroom. They were not content by verbally and virtually abusing him, they started beating him on the following day of his alleged crime. His crime was to express his opinion in a facebook group regarding the ongoing Tribunal of Crime against Humanity in Bangladesh, especially one of its verdicts that hanged a political leader on that night.
The students in our society are known for respecting their teachers, traditionally, and treating them with more honour than their own parents. This respect is considered as one of the major elements in our socio-psychological construct. Unlike Western culture, our eastern culture conventionally sees that the teachers have rights even to beat their pupils occasionally in order to teach them. That’s why it is extra-ordinarily shocking to see that one of those respected teachers are now being verbally and physically abused by the hand of their own students. Which is more shocking is to see that thousands of teachers in Bangladesh are silent today; they don’t protest and seek justice in this regard. All these are taking place only with the support of current oppressive regime of Awami League, led by the hardliner Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Now it has become a commonplace to see that our teachers are forced to act like obedient pets in front of the political leaders.
We can see that many oppressive rulers and monarchs treated the teachers with honour. Many kings are ill-reputed in the history for their deeds, but even they were usually respectful towards the teachers and the scholars. What is happening in current Bangladesh in the name of 1971 war-industry doesn’t know any bound in this regard. Now, every conscious soul is mistreated if they dare to express their opinion freely. Naturally, the educators have become a primary victim in that closed and fascist structure. Do those political thugs and leaders know the place of the educator class in a human society? Or they forget everything due to their physical power and dare to destroy the power of intellectual beings? I urge to everyone concerned about Bangladesh to be aware of the significance of this event and to protest against this with all means possible.