Maswood Alam Khan
It was in a video clip available in the YouTube where you can see how 22-year old Habibur Rahman, a poor man from Chapainawabganj district, was tortured by BSF personnel as he could not meet their demand for a torch, a cell phone and Taka one thousand. Habibur was stripped naked and his hands were tied behind his back.
For about an hour he was kicked in the stomach, beaten indiscriminately on his head, legs, arms, and genitals. With those terrible, desperate eyes, Habibur, at one stage before his hands were tied, grabbed tightly a foot of a soldier, beseeching him for a little mercy, still croaking in pains. He was made to lie flat on the ground and one soldier after another clubbed him with sticks and all their strength. Not satisfied as yet with this cruel torture, they took a long piece of rugged wood and wedged it between his back and his tied-up hands to inflict more pains on his body. Then they kicked on his buttock, pressed their boots on his breast, as if they intended to press him to death. Habibur was shrieking, calling upon God, ‘Maa’ (mother) and ‘Baba’ (father) to save him, while one soldier tried to gag him to prevent him from screaming.
One who viewed the video clip must have tears welling up in his eyes. One mother who has a son of Habibur’s age must have imagined how she would have felt if the victim was his own son! But, Habibur is a Bangladeshi and he too is a son of a mother. He is our man, son of our soil.
We could hardly forget our pains from the latest brutality of BSF force when a picture of another Bangladeshi man, also naked, is in circulation in the internet. This time it is the brutality of our own police force and the victim is a supporter of a political party. The picture shows policemen swinging the body of Limon onto a van—two policeman holding his hands and the other one his feet—the way a slaughtered goat is thrown onto a conveyor for processing its meat.
Limon, while he was protesting against the government at a rally in Chandpur on Sunday, was shot probably by a policeman and was reportedly tortured before he died from unconstrained bleeding. Who knows, he could be shot by someone else? Limon was lying unconscious inside the van for about one and a half hours before his body was shown to a hospital. Limon perhaps could have survived if he were given emergency medical treatment. Limon is a Bangladeshi and he too is a son of a mother. He is our man, son of our soil.
Two more men were killed on the same day at Laxmipur. They were also reportedly shot dead by our police force or by some unruly political activists. They were also supporters of a political party.
It is very painful to watch in the video and in the picture the brutalities against Bangladeshis. It is also painful to think about how professional soldiers and professional policemen could respond to an innocent dealer and unarmed protesters in this way.
Our heart jolted, our blood curdled and our outrage sparked at the sight of the video clip on the Bangladeshi being tortured by Indian Security Force and of the picture of an injured Bangladeshi being swung by Bangladeshi Police Force. But these scenes of tortures and injuries are nothing compared to thousands of brutalities being conducted inside dark corridors of power which are not captured on video for circulation in YouTube. There are hundreds of indescribably brutal devices and methods by which victims are continuously being tortured, killed or made to disappear. Movies or pictures of those tortures and homicides would never be shown to us.
There is perhaps a thrill we humans relish in torturing and killing any living being. Our lust for killing is as strong as our lust for power. Torturers, as we find, don’t stop torturing when they hear groans of pain and cries for mercy from the helpless victims. Screams of agony rather fuel the energy of the torturers to torture humans with renewed strength. Torturers hate to kill a man by a bullet; that is painless. They want their subjects to remain conscious for long to suffer the fullness of pains they sadistically inflict.
One becomes a master torturer when he is consumed with a newly acquired “power”. He becomes blind and deaf and does not imagine for a fleeting moment that someone else on some other day could also torture him when there will be a shift in power—or a dramatic change in the course of events.
We are at a turning point, and leadership is required to prevent disaster. We’re at a crucial moment when our moral authority and moral force needs to be eloquently articulated before this moment devolves into more violence and deadly polarization. Where are the leaders, today, who will take the moral high ground?