How we choose to resolve conflict says a lot about us as a nation.
Unfortunately, for too long, Bangladesh has remained locked in a cycle of political violence and vandalism.
The recent clash in Narayanganj was a sad reminder of this violent culture, where thugs from different groups wreaked havoc in the city’s Chashara area.
According to reports, the clash erupted during an eviction drive that was being conducted by the mayor of Narayanganj Selina Hayat Ivy, which sought to clear the city’s footpaths of occupying street vendors and hawkers, as mandated by a government decree.
The attacks, which targetted Ivy and her supporters, was allegedly instigated by an AL lawmaker who took issue with Ivy’s policies.
If there indeed were legitimate grievances, they should have been brought forward in a civilised, democratic matter.
Attacking people on the streets, or throwing rocks at civilians, is completely unacceptable, no matter what the provocation.
A disagreement should not result in over 100 people being injured, as we saw in Narayanganj.
Time and time again, mostly through the actions of student groups, we have seen that this kind of petty thuggery is the preferred way of dealing with disagreements, and this undermines much genuine progress we have made as a democratic nation.
In the past, we have seen instances of student groups causing destruction on otherwise peaceful campuses, hurting innocents.
Not too long ago, a group of teachers was assaulted outside the SUST campus by a group of hooligans for protesting peacefully.
It seems that instead of civilised debate, violence is the default response to conflict for many, and that is a sad state of affairs.
The government has a duty to change this culture before it is too late.
Dhaka Tribune, January 18, 2018