Abrar murder is just another consequence of the perpetual hooliganism existing in our education sector, specifically in the public universities.
Why am I writing about Abrar, why not about those who lost their limbs, or those who now use hearing aids or white sticks after losing their hearing capability and eyesight respectively? The shameless truth is perhaps that Abrar is dead and they are not, while they could easily be. I am writing as a member of those ill-fated university teaching community who helplessly purge their remorse only either through their writing or whining and sighing in afternoon idle conversations.
Abrar is just another victim of a society which is gradually delving deep into a limbo of confusion, fear, purposelessness and addiction, not to mention sheer recklessness. And whenever, Abrar, Diaz (at University of Chittagong) or others die, the political spearheads deny to take the responsibility for the individual demons and tend to narcissistically cherish the glorious past.
To begin with the recent incident at Buet, one of the most well reputed and better regulated universities of the country, it can be asserted without much argument that Abrar murder reflects the exact culture of lawlessness and violence amidst most of the autonomously-run public and government universities.
Recent scandalous allegations against quite a few vice-chancellors of different universities are the eye-openers for us. In most of these cases, students are either exploited or victimised or even illegally privileged.
To our utter hope, it is the students and some teachers who play the roles of the prime protesters against such slackening of academic discipline. Such academic (which includes corruption in admission) and administrative calamity in the universities is gradually crippling a generation with undue terror, frustration, voicelessness, and eventually violence as a means of survival.
As far as it has been revealed, one of Abrar's social media status offended some politically biased student activists and which was mainly the reason why he was brutally lynched to death. In response to such heinous terrorism in the academia, when one of the ministers utters the lullaby of so-called scattered occurrence, it is pathetic and it eventually leads us to a general frustration as citizens and academics.
Considering the recent involvements of a number of political leaders (mostly from the political party in power) in a handful of criminal involvements, don't the lawmakers realise the grave and dark future of the nation and, in particular, of the youth?
Simply put, when a so-called democratic state does not ensure democracy in all spheres of life, it has its consequences. Academia is one such crucial space which, by no means, deserves to be in the state of terror.
Stripping the students of their right to express and speak up is detrimental to the spirit of university, be it by the university authority or any student political wing. And such state of authoritarian violence and terrorism occurs when the representative politics is absent from the academia. This is exactly what can be observed at the universities across the country.
The University of Dhaka at least can claim some credit for arranging Ducsu election, though a controversial one. And, the other universities are looking forward to it with feeble hope.
Failure in ensuring the representative student body has gradually led us to see the monopoly of a single student wing across the country. We all know power accompanied by money has its devilish impact. Hence, asking for financial share from Jahangirnagar University development project by Chhatra League leaders is no wonder from the student leaders who have been enjoying the satanic monopoly of power and lack of accountability.
Recently, Bangladesh government's (self)-cleansing mission deserves praise as long as they can capture the spearheads lurking behind. Trimming the petit branches leaving the root of evil untouched will only perpetuate terrorism.
We the academics and common citizens must prioritise a sane educational ambiance to validate the claim of national development. It is the academia which creates and enriches human resources. It is the universities which should be able to claim themselves as an open space for research, argument and criticism.
By killing someone for writing/expressing something only takes us back to the dark ages, and therefore, strangles any claims for so-called development. Silencing the voice and then supporting such violence is what a fascist country can think of, not a twenty-first century democratic nation.
When students like Abrar are murdered and the act goes untried, it gives birth to more monsters and the process goes on. Added to that, only locating and locking down the lynchers is not enough, it is crucial to coordinate a healthy teacher-student and student-student relationships.
Any violence has its own aftermaths. Either it makes the victim furious or terrorised or even frustrated consequences which ultimately affect the society.
The government must now focus on the unhealthy university situations and it must take different movements across the campuses into account.
When terror pervades different sectors of our life, the development indicators become overshadowed. At the same time, different elections including students' union election, dean election, syndicate election and other executive elections at the universities have to be regularised.
It is not needed to reiterate that lawlessness in one section of the university must plague other sections. Any form of violence at the universities has to be dealt strictly and without bias. The government should also check the issues regarding the stakeholdership between teachers and students which involves tender and other financial misalliances.
To simply exemplify, lawlessness occurs when a student or a teacher slips through committing a crime and at the same time, on a more quotidian level, it occurs when a student leader does not pay lunch bill at the food stalls on the campus. And when asking for justice leads to the victimhood of the justice-seeker, it is defined as violence. And, hundreds of occurrences of such violence on micro and macro levels are infecting our universities.
Quarantining the education system of such malignant viruses has now become imperative to rank among the world-class universities. Our recent performance in the world education index is deplorable and has only worsened. Hence, to keep pace with world leaders of education, the government must ensure a healthy environment for cultivating knowledge where freedom of expression will never be the reason for someone's murder.
To end with, Abrar's murder is the saturation point of deterioration of our academia, let's begin the reformation here and now.
The writer is an Associate Professor of Department of English at Jahangirnagar University