Friday, August 22, 2008

Editorial: How do we get over this clannish hysteria?

WHEN the backlash to a trivial matter has such upshots as injuring 60 people, damaging private and public property, shutting down traffic and closing of a university sine die then there must be something seriously wrong with our collective psyche. We have the discomfiture for the umpteenth time to comment on a series of errant outbursts, this time originating in a coach conductor's ham-handed treatment to a student of Rajshahi University.

The student was allegedly forced out of a Dhaka-bound bus for demanding a seat he has paid for. The behaviour of the bus conductor was reprehensible calling for disciplinary action, no doubt. What should have been the normal option for the student to exercise was to approach the coach authority to lodge a formal complaint with, ask for refund of the fare and furthermore demand compensation for the journey missed. Instead, he reported the incident to his fellow students which had the effect of agitating them to attack Rajshahi-Dhaka bus ticket booth at Binodhpur Bazar. This in turn triggered a retaliatory strike by the workers of transport services and other local businesses.

At each point of the way there was a trouble-shooting potential to calm the agitating students and the workers. Just as the university authorities, if they were agile and serious enough, could effectively persuade the students to keep their cool on an assurance of taking up the matter with the coach authorities so also the latter should have intervened with their workers making sure that they didn't take the law into their own hands.

We attribute the creation of the law and order situation to the manifest sense of irresponsibility on the part of the students, the mindless behaviour of the workers and their employers and the combined failure of the university authorities and the local administration to get a move on timely. Let the inquiry instituted be not a barren exercise in blame-trading; something should come out of it as a preventive recipe.

The paramount question that we must find an answer to is: Why can't we rise above petty-fogging and clannish mentality in dealing with things that can be perfectly soberly handled with a positive and constructive attitude. If we can't do it, clannish reprisals will make the society descend into total anarchy. The sociologists and community leaders must put their heads together to find a solution out of this vicious circle.

No comments:

Post a Comment