Amar Desh Photo
Since the beginning of Shahbag square movement, especially since the death sentence announcement of Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, violent confrontation caused the loss of a lots of lives. As there has not been any effort to tabulate an exact death toll, it is very difficult to say precisely how many people died during the last two months of political unrest. A sample count of daily death tolls reports on different violent days during the last 30 days following Sayedee verdict, it is clearly evident that the number of death is very high, unprecedented in the history of post 71 Bangladesh.
Based on mainstream media treatment of the deaths, the reaction of the vocal urban educated class, this blogger will classify the dead into two groups,1. The High profile dead and 2. The low profile dead.
We heard about the first high profile group of dead in almost all news media across the globe, in hundreds of thousands of Facebook pages and twitter accounts. We have participated and experienced intense national mourning and anger at these deaths. The deaths of blogger Architect Rajib Haider, Narayanganj Gonojagoron mancha leader Rafiur Rabbi’s 17 year old son Tanvir Mohammad Towki, music director Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul’s brother and the death of 8 police at the hand of violent mobs — fall into the category high profile deaths.
Daily Star Photo
All the above deaths, however, are brutal deaths, despicable heinous crimes and acts of inhuman monsters. Rajib was chopped to death with sharp weapons and his head was almost chopped of his neck. Towki of NarayanGanj was killed more brutally. School boy Towki’s testis were found crushed ( sign of pre-death torture), and his body had signs of asphyxiation and heavy-object injury in the head. The strangulated body of the brother of Mr Bulbul was found in a trash landfill. Although all the deaths were initially blamed on Jamaat shibir, later in almost all cases there has been a change of heart regarding the possible culprit.
Then there are the low profile deaths, the apparent disposable or forgettable or unworthy dead. As insignificant these deaths are, it is not clear exactly how many fall into these category.
These deaths are low profile because except for one Facebook page, Islami Chhatra Shibir run Basher kella, three newspapers, Amar Desh, Daily Naya Diganta and Jamaat mouthpiece Daily Sangram, no one speaks about them much. Although almost all of those killed are killed by police firing, in mainstream media narrative these are casualties of Jamaat Shibir violence, they died, they were not killed. Reading mainstream media, it is difficult to grasp exactly under what circumstances these men, women and children died. Except for the families of the dead, no one knows their name, how old were they, what they used to do in their lives.
This blog tried to determine the number with some detail of the low profile dead. To do that, this blog researched two newspapers, one is Engish Daily the New Age and the other is Bengali vernacular Amar Desh. New Age has a decidedly passionately anti Jamaat ( One party of the conflict) editorial and news treatment policy while the other, Amar desh treats Jamaat Shibir with a sympathetic editorial policy.
According to New age 40 people died on February 28, the day Sayedee verdict was announced. New age increases the total death toll to 47 adding 7 more death on March 1. Six more died on March 2nd, New Age counts total number of dead till march 2nd at 53. On March 3rd 23 more people died as security forces fired on mobs of demonstrators in Bogra, Joypurhat, Rajshahi and other places and more than 1,000 wounded as violence escalated on the first day of a 48-hour hartal. Of the 23,
Ten people were killed in Bogra, six in Joypurhat, four in Rajshahi and one each in Satkhira and Gazipur. New Age also reports that
Besides, a police constable was beaten to death in Jhenaidah by Jamaat-Shibir men, which took the number of policemen killed in the recent spate of violence to 6. New Age, as of March 3rd, updates t
he latest deaths toll to 76.
At least four more people, including two brothers, were shot dead and about 50 sustained bullet wounds in clashes between the police and Jamaat-Shibir activists on March 4.
In Satkhira, three Jamaat-Shibir men were killed in fighting with BGB personnel and the other died during clashes between pro-hartal activists and police in Sirajganj. As per New Age report of March 4,
he latest deaths took to 79 the total number of people killed. The same new age report however states that
Jamaat claimed that as many as 143 people, including women and children, were killed in last five days.
Amar Desh Photo
ast 86 including 8 policeman.
On March 27th
one more person was killed in police firing in Jessore. The n
Five more people died in Chapainawabganj and Sirajganj on March 29 at the hand of police and ruling party members
. Counting all the above death during the violence starting after Sayedee verdict until the end of the month of March total number of dead per New Age report is 100.
Now let’s see how the staunchly anti government and Islamist sympathetic Amar desh tallied the dead.
Amar Desh Photo
According to Amar Desh, on Feb 28, the day of Sayedee verdict, a total of 55 people including 5 policeman died. This same daily adds six more death including 1 policeman
So the total number of death according to New Age and Amar Desh is different. 113 versus 100. Not too much in Bangladesh standard. However to its credit, Amar Desh tried to corroborate the numbers with names of photos of the dead. The March 8 issue of Daily Amar Desh does a great analysis
of the dead with breakdown of their political affiliation. Analyzing all the death between February 28 and March 6, this report states that among the 97 dead, 46 are activists of Jamaat Shibir, 33 are general people without any political affiliation, seven are members of police force, six are activists of BNP and allied organizations, five are ruling party activists and 1 was LDP activist. This a very thorough and detail report with name and location of all the victims. Also name/ photo of four women and four under age children killed in police actions in Shatkhera and Bogra came up in Amar Desh.
The problem with the low profile dead is that it is very difficult to speak about them or demand any inquiry or justice for their death without being termed as a war criminal or Shibir activist. Only news source is Amar Desh and considering the perception of Amar Desh among the progressive society, using Amar Desh ( whatever authentic, investigative and thorough evidence based reports they may have done) as the source invites automatic prejudice against a blog.
Contrary to the low profile dead, it is much more convenient and fashionable to write about the high profile dead or even the high profile injured.
And it is an irony that while all these started with difference of opinion about justice and punishment of someone’s crimes – no one is a tad concerned about the justice for these low profile dead and punishment of the killings.