THE tragic and inhuman death of a working class boy in the hands of a hatchery owner is an acutely disturbing but a familiar piece of news. Eighteen-year-old Sagor Ahmed was, as New Age reported on Wednesday, beaten to death for his alleged involvement in stealing from a hatchery at Gauripur in Mymensingh. Photographs and videos that New Age has obtained shows the extent of brutality in the incident. The hatchery owner and his son, along with four to five others, pounded Sagar after tying him to a pole. While the accused and other silent spectators of the brutal murder claimed that the victim was a petty thief, the victim’s father said that his son was a gleaner and left for work on the fateful day. Sagor’s death is not an isolated incident. In recent times, there have been many similar cases, including Rajon, Rakib, Alauddin and others that embraced the same fate as Sagor’s. Despite media and civil society outcry, the death of children suggests that the prevailing social and political system only dehumanises the working class and fails to protect their children at work.
The death of Sagor is deeply disconcerting. Firstly, the incident proves that people at large have no regard for the legal system as they took law in their hands. Even in the case, if the victim was involved in any sort of stealing, the hatchery owner should have brought him to justice. Instead, in the presence of a crowd, he was tortured for hours until he died from his injury. This tendency to resort to vigilante justice is a direct result of the corrupt and inefficient legal system that the government should immediately address. According to Ain O Salish Kendra, at least 51 people were killed in mob violence in 2016. Secondly, the incident also shows the way society at large is increasingly becoming prone to violence as a crowd of villagers witnessed the murder as silent spectators without feeling any responsibility to stop the torture. Finally, the death of Sagor and others illuminates how the state functionaries have failed to protect the working class children in spite of many laws and policy in this regard. Children working for their survival, particularly in the informal sector, are vulnerable and at risk of facing such violence from employers. According to the report of rights organisation Manusher Jonno, 1,150 children were killed in 2016. It is time that the government took serious measures to prevent the torture of children and mob violence.
While the problem at hand is not merely a child rights issue, the government should immediately act on the reported cases of violence against children and set an exemplary precedent that no child abuse will be tolerated. In doing so, it must improve law and order as people’s lack of trust in the legal system for alleged corruption and discriminatory application of laws is also a major reason behind such vigilante justice seekers who took Sagor’s life.
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