Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 64, Tuesday November 07, 2006




The rampage regime

Have ever been in a situation when you were sitting in a vehicle or just casually passing down a street when out of no where groups or goons came storming by and launched rampage by smashing cars, roadside establishments and chasing pedestrians just for the kick of it? Well, it's superiorly fearsome. It has always been there but lately we've seen the worst of such violent acts which caused wide spread anarchy and gripped citizens with tremendous panic because no matter what banners these hoodlums were under, their sole objective was to architect chaos and anarchy on a massive scale.

It is not easy to deal with the fact that some roadside hooligans will rampage your vehicle and business establishments or hound you down the street when you are simply minding your own business. Take the case of the recent occurrence of “unrest” in the country's garment sector. Any movement towards righteousness is always valued but what these ruffians posing as garment workers did was simply reprehensible. Under the banners of some so called workers association these goons first took to the streets and then tried to take over the streets. It is really tragic to see people practicing non-compliance for the sake of compliance.

Every time one such event takes place, vehicles are ransacked, personal establishments vandalised and the decent law biding people are terrorised by these hordes of thugs who brutally spread terror in the name of righteousness. Roads remain blocked, businesses come to a standstill, people get trapped and the louts work out their blue prints of destruction in the name of establishing their right, the process of which leaves the nation's economic system in a wreck and often costs the dear lives of several. Since compliance is a key issue in the current context, has the thought ever occurred to theworkers and their leaders that creating chaos and anarchy among the citizens will only bring forth negative reactions? Probably not and the potential of the occurrence of such thought is indeed quite minimal given the examples set by these “righteous movement leaders and workers”.

In recent times several protests turned into deadly riots all of which started as peaceful processions for the demand of decent continuation of electricity supply. On TV one can see how such protest rallies turn into platoons of hoodlums who seem to be out to kill rather than concentrate on the issues that instigated such protest rallies in the first place. And very unfortunately the deteriorating political situation of the country also promises worsening of such street movements.

The funny thing is every time there is such a riot we get to see it through the coverage of several TV channels of the country. And all the actions of those hooligans who are out on rampage are vividly being witnessed by the audience. Now the question is, if it is evident who is causing damage to public property or hounding civilians with deadly weapons should not that person be arrested at once since there is explicit video proof of that person being involved in criminal activity? Indeed and yes indeed these mobs of mayhem must be brought to justice despite their ideologies for creating constructive chaos.

With the election shortly due the probability of such events threatens to increase. Motives like isolating Dhaka from the rest of the country or destabilising the country indefinitely can only come from politicians who bear no respect for the country and its well-being. On what ground can a political party order their party members to seize national routes so that no transport can move in or out of the destinations? Wouldn't such actions cause great public suffering? What is a matter of politics must be resolved in political way, in the utmost civic way. Taking over the streets, prowling, hounding on the public and civilian properties is only the practice of the indecent and the practitioners of violence.

By Obaidur Rahman

Reader’s Chit

Steve Irwin: The Modern Noah

Tv’s “Animal Planet” is not going to be the same after the death of its great presenter, Steve Irwin. To viewers all over the world, his programmes on animal life and habitat were watched with great interest and delight because they were presented with such exuberant and enthusiastic style: Steve's broad Aussie accent and catch phrase “Cricket” was a source of great pleasure to world viewers.

When the news of his death was announced I was deeply saddened because he was among the people who taught me to value life in all its forms everywhere big or small, beautiful or not. I am neither a poet nor a naturalist but I am lucky to stay in the DU Campus-one of the most beautiful green places still available in Dhaka. Indeed, I am willing to sacrifice part of my sleep for my morning walk every day because I know I will be able to see dew drops glistening on the grass, smell the fragrance of shornochaapa, bokul and sheuli looking beautiful then, although they will whither away as the day progresses. And, yes, if I am lucky I may even see a shy mongoose darting towards a bush or a squirrel prancing from branch to branch. Now what does this experience of mine have to do with Steve's death?

Steve's programmes were amongst the lessons I learnt that taught me to look at wild animals in a distinctive way. I remember twenty years back when we came back to Dhaka from Canada we were crossing Hatirpool Bazaar where we saw a mob chasing something with long sticks. As we got closer we were shocked to see that the chased one was only a dora shaap, a small water snake which probably came with the fish catch. I thought that the beating it got was a bit too cruel for the harmless little snake. But snakes of course are popularly perceived to be one of the most feared animals on earth. Maybe I was over reacting a bit. As a child I grew up in a house in Khulna with a luscious green backyard which could obviously be a natural haven for snakes. Especially during monsoon it was a common practice in the house for children to get up on the palanks in the bedroom. The reason was simple. A cobra was seen sheltering in the corner of a room. We all climbed down once the snake was killed or driven away.

The education that I got from Steve actually began in Vancouver some years back, when I was a teacher in a Montesseri school. I would go for nature walks with my class of five-year olds to the wood behind the school. A Naturalist came twice a week to accompany us, as we walked and observed the trees and the animals of the wood. Children at this early age are taught these to care and respect for animals big or small. After all, Mother Nature would never be so interesting without the splendour of living things.

Thanks to the naturalist we were able to feel the rhythm of a ladybird walk on our hands or count the legs of a spider resting on a leaf. And if we lucky we could hear the rattle of a snake warning us not to disturb it. Once we returned from our walk we would talk about the treasures that we collected in our bag and share them with each other. Abbey, a little girl found a baby turtle which we returned to the wild so that it would return to its natural habitat. This respect and care for wild animals will develop only with education. In the Western world, such education for children begins when they are very young.

Steve Irwin, so well know as the Crocodile Hunter by his viewers was one of the greatest educators and saviours. He worked relentlessly as a crocodile trapper, but he trapped them only to remove them from regulated areas where they were considered a danger. Steve was born to Lyun and Irwin in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne. His father was a reptile enthusiast who later moved to Queensland. His father started the Queensland Reptile and Fuana Park. He spent his childhood around reptiles. The Park was a family run business and eventually was turned to Steve. In 1992 he met Zerri, his wife, at the Park while performing a demonstration. He is survived by a two-year old son and a five-year old daughter.

Irwin was a passionate conservationist who was against clearing of land since it leads to less of habitat. He was also against illegal poaching and the purchase of items such as turtle shells or eat shark fin soup. He believed that people should stop patronising poaching by not buying jewelleries made of ivory, and furs. Irwin was a great wild life specialist. He had a simple and spontaneous way of talking to his audience and of informing them about every little detail of his subject, be it small or big.

Sometimes there were allegations that he went too close to animals (whales, seals and penguins) while filming for documentaries. But he felt he would never do anything to hurt or disturb them. Alas! the irony is he was fatally wounded by one of the most gentle of animals, the Sting Ray, while he was filming for a documentary which his daughter Bindi would be hosting. From the news stories one can understand that he had indeed gone too close to the fish.

He was fatally pierced in the chest by a short tail Sting Ray barf. The events were all caught on camera. Films show that he managed to pull the barf out before losing consciousness.

With Steve's death, Mother Nature has lost a great son who really cared, for her conservation. Hundreds of people visited Australia Zoo to pay tribute to the Modern Noah which is so befitting for a man with such a magnanimous heart willing to give his life for the welfare of animals big or small. Animal Planet will rename the space in front of Discovery's World Headquarters in Silver Spring in Maryland to the Steve Irwin Memorial Sensony Garden. They will also rename his Crocodile Hunter Fund “The Crickey Fund,” which will allow people from all over the world to make contributions in Irwin's honour to support Wild Life Protection, dedication and conservation.

What I hope by writing this column is that we in Bangladesh will do our part to spread Steve's legacy by teaching our children about nature in our schools and at home to look at life and care for all creatures big or small and to preserve all species of life from destruction. My tribute to Steve is thus meant to remind us not only of the loss of the great naturalist, but also to keep his memory alive in our part of the world for the moment and hopefully even longer through our work to protect the sanctity of all life.

By Nazma Alam



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