MOB ‘justice’ continues unabated as offenders seldom face trial in Bangladesh. People are taking the law into their own hands more often than reported. A photograph published in New Age on Tuesday depicts an acutely disturbing but a familiar situation and speak of the cruel scene of mob ‘justice’. It showed how the local people at Uattar Chandpur in Shariatpur district are brutally assaulting a class four student tying him up in chains on bamboo post of a house on suspicion of stealing and the crowd there are either onlooker or participating in the violence. The latest incident of public lynching is illustrative of the prevailing lawlessness. Petty crimes such as mugging, theft and drug peddling, on the one hand, are on the rise; on the other hand, efforts of the law enforcement agencies to curb crimes continue to remain superficial. In this context, in the name of justice, aggrieved victims of crimes are often found engaging in mob ‘justice’ which is under no circumstances acceptable. The government should make it loud and clear to the people that mob ‘justice’ is not even an option.
According to the Odhikar, a human rights organisation, a total of 1,067 people were killed by lynching mob from 2009 to 2017. Ain O Salish Kendra has reported that 16 people were killed in the first three months of this year by lynching mob. Sociologists, psychologists and criminologist have pointed out that the culture of impunity that exists in the country is playing a major role in the alarming tendency of mob ‘justice’. People’s growing distrust of the law enforcement agencies for alleged corruption and discriminatory application of laws are the reasons behind such incidents. Because of the alleged involvement of the law enforcement agencies in street crimes, people are prone to take law into their own hands. There are allegations that the corrupt members of law enforcement agencies often let the criminals to escape in exchange of bribe even in the cases when the alleged offenders are caught red handed. There is also allegation that aggrieved victims of suspected petty crimes are often harassed in the police stations that they feel discouraged to report a crime. Besides, very rarely, legal cases of such petty crimes roll into conviction as the judiciary is backlogged and such cases are not of high priority. In this situation, all the authorities concerned should devise a comprehensive plan to battle mob violence in the name of ‘justice’.
Under this circumstance, the government must take strict action against the instigators of mob violence to discourage and prevent its recurrence. It must also reckon with the fact that without resolving corruption and alleged involvement and inaction of the law enforcement agencies, it is not possible to regain the trust of the public. Justice dispensation system must be equipped with adequate human and other resources for speedy delivery of justice to the victims of street crimes.
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