A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” These memorable lines of William Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar still shiver us. Great persons in the world left many suggestions and time-tested lessons for us to handle any situation or crisis aptly.
Hundreds of crimes are being committed in the country regularly. The aggrieved persons are filing cases and waiting for justice. But some offences are taking place before our eyes. Can we always come forward to resist the criminals? The answer will be no. Prevention is better than cure. It is better to save the life of the victim than to get attacker punished.It is pertinent to discuss killing of a youth in Barguna, a housewife in Chattogram and a tailor in Old Dhaka. All three murders were committed in broad daylight and before the eyes of pedestrians and other people. But none came forward to save the victims. Perhaps, many of us have lost the courage to protest any offence. Is this policy of selfishness safe for us? No. It is giving a wrong message to the criminals. They are committing murders publicly knowing that nobody will come forward to thwart them.
Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, wife of police officer Babul Akter, was killed publicly in the port city Chattogram in broad daylight? She was stabbed and shot dead by a group of killers in front of her son near GEC area on June 5, 2016. Four years prior to the incident, Bishwajit, a tailor by profession, was killed same way at a public place by 21 members of the student wing of a political party at Laxmibazar in Old Dhaka.
When the nation is already overburdened with two tragic deaths, it has to see another such incident. Rifat Sharif was killed by a group of youths as he went to drop his wife to her college in Barguna. The killing took place in front of victim’s wife Ayesha Siddika and many people. The killers have been identified as Nayan and Rifat Farajee.
The murder in public place has shaken the conscience of every sensible person at home and abroad.
Although every murder is unacceptable, these killings are same in nature for being committed publicly. The killers dared to commit murders to be viewed and recorded by mobile phone.
Why are murders taking place in front of people repeatedly and why are not people resisting the killers?
The offenders are not so brave that they appear to be. They show heroism if and when we turn a blind eye to their crimes. Every people have a right to defend himself if he/she is attacked. It is not legally, socially and morally wrong to save anybody’s life. Is it proper for us to behave like a selfish? If we do not stand beside an attacked person, other people will not help us in case of our trouble.
Resisting the criminals in case of offence at public places has a positive implication. If offenders fail to attack anybody publicly, they will have to seek a rare opportunity to commit the crime secretly. Most of the case, targeted person remains cautious to avoid the attack. So, the offenders will hardly reach him.
A few criminals can easily be resisted by large number of eyewitnesses. But people are sometimes discouraged to help the victim for fear of reprisal. Who will give them security? In our country, people who protest a crime, face harassment or attack by the accused. The offenders manage to be at large and take revenge.
Many eyewitnesses are reluctant to open mouth to the police and adduce evidence before the court fearing dire consequence. Rupganj top terror Sohel alias VP Sohel and his cohorts gouged out eyes of a complainant, Jalaluddin, of a murder case and hacked him indiscriminately on May 15, 2016, causing his death seven hours later.
VP Sohel earlier killed Jalal’s son Nazrul Islam Babu. Jalal was targeted for filing a case in connection with his son’s murder. Still, he had been fighting the case amid death threats.
Prosecution witnesses in several cases, including some filed over war crimes, were killed for testifying in the court. The associates of the accused persons killed them.
Many grievous offenders cannot be meted out due punishment or their trials are delayed for unwillingness of witnesses to testify for prosecution due to their insecurity, legal experts say.
They say the prosecution lawyers face trouble in proving charges as witnesses are not willing to appear before court for testimony.
The Law Commission, led by its former chairman Prof M Shah Alam, submitted a report to the government in February 2011 recommending a social mechanism for providing protection to the witnesses and victims in sensitive cases.
Former law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed said that the law ministry drafted a law ‘Witness Protection Act 2011’ and sent it to home ministry, but it still remains there.
Incumbent Chairman of Law Commission and former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque agreed that protection of a witness is vital and a legal safeguard to this end is needed.
Let us discuss the video footage of any crime. Many people are criticising capturing murder scene by mobile phone. It should be remembered that video is a living piece of evidence. The killers are clearly identified by the video. So, the court will be able to punish the offenders on the basis of only video footage without other evidence. If statements of witnesses do not corroborate facts and circumstances, the accused will not get benefit of doubt.
Delay in investigation and charge-sheet, dropping the name of the main culprit, lack of deposition by prosecution witnesses and bribery are creating a scope for the offenders to get scot-free. Sometimes, the culprits get released from the appellant courts for lack of evidence. The complainants get demoralised.
Whatever the situation may be, we will have to come forward to resist such heinous crimes in open places. Social awareness and resistance are needed in this regard. If any crimes at any place come to our notice, we will have to respond positively. The government should enact special law to protect witnesses of offence.
Police should investigate cases fairly and submit charge-sheet properly. Witnesses have to testify and lawyers of both sides should move the case professionally. They should be aware of their social responsibility.
All of us have to be united against the criminals for the sake of safety of all. If we do not save other people at the time of danger, it will not be reciprocated.
Parents and teachers need to inculcate ethical lessons to the children so that they are not derailed. Parents should monitor movement of their children.
Other factors that contribute to the increase of offences including murder are social decay, moral degradation, lack of ethical teaching at home and educational institution, abuse of Facebook and other social media and influence of black money. These should be controlled.
Lack of awareness among common people, abuse of political power by a quarter and lack of or delay in justice are resulting in repetition of such incidents. Social taboos, alibi and prejudice against women are being used by offenders and their sympathisers to divert the issue and damage merit of the prosecution case. These problems need to be addressed.
The writer is a columnist.