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     Volume 4 Issue 20 | November 5, 2004 |

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The Grace of Security

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

Wahid was on Kamal Ataturk Avenue at eleven p.m. on a Tuesday night when a microbus full of people overtook the rickshaw he was riding on. As the rickshaw slowed down, about ten people got out of the van and walked towards him. Realising what was happening, Wahid jumped off the rickshaw and ran, to no avail. The men quickly caught up with him and pinned him down on the ground. One of them was carrying a knife and cut him in his leg. The men robbed him of all his possessions and got back in the van to drive off. Shaken and badly injured, Wahid walked towards the rickshaw-wallah who took a puff of his biri, saying in a cloud of smoke, "Bhaiya, ohon kothai jaben?(Where do you want to go now?)" As Wahid looked around he noticed various security guards and RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) members standing around, all being witness to the mugging. He took the rickshaw to a co-workers house, who then took him to the hospital. Wahid had to get several stitches on his leg.

Unfortunately for Wahid, Rab deigned this incident too insignificant to take "action rapidly." These mysterious and feared "men in black" prowl around the streets of Dhaka, but never seem to help out when there is real danger. Perhaps they are more efficient when dealing with real criminals, the ones that kill in masses and give threats to people more important than mere civilians. Though we are still waiting to see evidence to prove that fact.

Monwar was walking to a friend's house at around 9 p.m, in Dhanmondi. On his way over a car stopped in front of him. The driver asked him for directions. Not hearing Monwar, leaned closer to him. Before he knew what was happening, the driver grabbed the collar of his shirt and took out a knife, ordering him to give him all his money. Monwar looked around to call out to someone for help but before he could make a sound the driver of the car slapped him and pulled him further into the car. Hastily Monwar took out his wallet and other belongings and handed them to the driver of the car. The driver roughly pushed him away and drove off, leaving Monwar lying on the ground. Looking up he saw the guards from the house in front of which he got mugged walking over to help him up. As he thanked them and continued to walk towards his friends' house, one of the guards asked him for bakshish (tip).

If the guard had been quicker to aid Monwar while he was getting mugged of all his possessions and money, maybe he would have indeed received some bakshish. However, sadly enough for the guard in question, Monwar did not have the money to reward the man for his generous act of kindness, which came a few minutes too late.

There was an abstract drawing full of dots that was being passed around via internet about Bangladeshis a few years ago. It showed one dot in the middle and dozens of dots around it in the shape of a ring. There was a huge gap between the lone gap in the middle and the cluster of dots forming the ring. On the bottom of the picture was a simple caption: Bangladeshi civilians at the scene of an accident. It's that simple -- our inability and innate characteristic not to help anyone in need is so simple that it can be drawn out in dots.

It is perhaps understandable, if not excusable, when civilians are too afraid to lend a helping hand. No one really knows who they are dealing with, and most of the people on the street have their own problems -- civic sense, for them, may very well not be on their list of priorities. However, what is shocking is that law enforcing agents, even the so-called elite forces and security guards, people who are paid to provide security, are shirking on their duties and allowing people to get away with crimes such as mugging and harassment. One has to wonder at times, what are they really there for, if not to protect us and provide for us a stable, crime-free environment to live in?

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