The streets and squares of different towns and cities including those of Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chattogram and Brahmanbaria have witnessed outbreak of wanton violence and mayhem over the last week or so. At least a dozen people were killed and hundreds more injured some with gunshot wounds. Vehicles and electric poles were torched; roads were blocked for long periods, trains were attacked and a number of facilities such as the offices of the local administration and that of land record, press club, Municipal Corporation and the famed Alauddin Khan Music Academy were vandalised in Brahmanbaria. While a section of the intelligentsia appalled by the high handedness of the state authorities and the supporters of the ruling party in dealing with peaceful protests in Baitul Mukarram and Dhaka University areas in initial days called upon the authorities to respect the right to hold peaceful assembly and protest in a statement issued on March 27, another group demanded stern and decisive action to quell what was termed to be dastardly acts of the communal forces engaged in a conspiracy reminiscent of the dark Pakistani days. This statement was issued on March 30, after more than a dozen deaths.
The two statements clearly reflect the fault line of socio-political reality of today's Bangladesh. While there is no excuse for engaging in reckless violence that was resorted to by certain quarters causing immeasurable harm to life and property, perhaps time has come to engage in a reality check about the sequence of events that led to the outbreak of the chaos.