The fatal outcome of an unusual rumor

Now that the Padma Bridge is finally shaping up to become a reality, the wierdest rumor is in the air. People are losing their minds over a facebook post claiming the want for human heads for the construction of the bridge. Call it mistaking it with the construction company wanting more man power or just a mere hoax like any other, the panic has gone beyond control.

Drug addicts and petty criminals are cashing in on this opportunity. They got down to headhunting with hopes to earn something in return. News reports from the last few days point at four to five such cases where murder victims were found with missing heads. One person was even caught red handed with a severed head in his bag. But it does not stop here.

The panic has gone to the extent where innocent pedestrians are falling prey to lynching. The moment anyone looks suspicious in the streets, that’s when they meet their ill fate. Word of the mouth spreads like wildfire creating a sudden panic among passersby that a kidnapper has been spotted. Hell breaks loose and the person gets attacked by hundreds.

The chances of that person getting out alive is negligible. The mob beats the person till he breathes his last, without even confirming the authenticity of the claim. More and more people join the mob, spirited with the hope of doing something for the society. But all this at the cost of an innocent person dying. Most of the participants of a mob do not even know why they participated. They do it because the victim is not retaliating. It is somewhat feeding to the sadistic selves of few.

This is what happened to Miss Renu, who came to Dhaka’s Badda area to gather school admission related information for her child. As soon as she got out of the kindergarten, a group shouted ‘kidnapper’ pointing at her. She was misunderstood with a headhunter. Within moments, they attacked her beating her with sticks until he collapsed to death.

This is due to the ‘moral panic’ as discussed above. A moral panic is a fear spread among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well being of a society. It is usually done by the mass media, which is in our times, the social media. Ever since social media took over, the possibility of it being abused has become inevitable. It being a powerful medium, people are fully utilizing it to get their messages across. Hence this mischief, without the realization of what it would turn out to be.

In almost every such situation, mob violence follows. Mob lynching is an extrajudicial killing done to punish a criminal by the public that does not have a justification. Hence alongside actual offenders, many innocent person gets victimized. Moral panic resulting in mob violence is common around the world and the victims hardly get any justice. It has a long history that dates back to the medieval times.

In the United States, the african americans have long been subjected to public lynching throughout the 20th Century. India sees cases of mob justice every other day.

The most recent are the Cow Vigilante Violence and the Whatsapp Lynching, while the latter being similar to the current scenario in Bangladesh. The mob violence started when a rumor spread via whatsapp relating to child abduction and organ harvesting around India. The majority of attacks were in the villages resulting in 46 deaths around the country.

Although the myth of headhunting for construction purposes is prevalent in many countries but there has been no evidence of such in our country. Mob justice is no justice and people who spread false rumours must be brought to justice. It won’t be long when people use this excuse to execute personal grudges against one another.

A drastic step must be taken to stop this alarming rise of mob violence. It is a national concern and threat to citizens’ security. If this continues to go on, anxiety and insecurity would grasp every person living in the country

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