Bangladesh-Dynamics of the Watchdog of Democracy

Media – a system which takes pride in being recognized as the fourth pillar and the watchdog of democracy might be on the verge of not being able to fulfill its duties. Dhaka, a city of 10 million lies at a standstill today. 14 people were injured and two young children were killed by a speeding bus on Dhaka’s Airport road. The media distortion of facts in various articles is the major cause of the spread of rumours and misinformation. Media as a platform has to take accountability for the fact that a large number of people look up to it as an information-providing resource. There was an uproar of agitated students which erupted in the city with protests following the motive of enforcing stringent transport and safety rules and laws. An eyewitness mentioned that the bus involved in the accident was competing to get ahead another bus of the same company which is being cited as the primary reason for the accident. Incidents of torching and vandalizing of vehicles have been reported in the capital. The students are demanding safe roads and are adamant about debarring unlicensed drivers. Regulation of traffic and safety norms is paramount and is not too much to ask for considering the number of deaths occurring each year in road accidents.

In the case of the Bangladesh riots, the media has fuelled canards by being a mere puppet in the hands of the government. There has been an increase in the pedestrian deaths in Bangladesh and Dhaka as well. The tumult has not gone down well with the Bangladeshi government and they have been lashing out on the students left, right and centre leaving no stone unturned even on humanitarian grounds. Majority of the students protesting made no use of violence initially and ensured there were silent protests but they were tortured, beaten up and even shot with rubber bullets which worsened the situation. The students are facing atrocities like mass arrests, rapes and murders for protesting for the sake of fellow students. It was startling when a student’s eye was gouged out in lieu of the protest. The Bangladeshi government terminated mobile connections and local Wi-Fi connections to ensure that the issue stays within the boundaries. The occurrence was not covered by the media to avoid the potentially revolting audience. Journalists trying to cover the incident reported that their camera equipment was damaged and destroyed.

The severity of the event came to light after several students took to social media to voice their anger and to show solidarity to all the students fighting for the rights the government owes them. The internet being cut in Bangladesh is a major breach of rights to freedom of speech and expression. The hashtag #WeWantJustice has been trending with millions of people retweeting it and sharing stories and posts on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The cruel and inhumane pictures which have surfaced on the internet of violence on the students is heart-breaking. Innocent students are being hunted down by authorities for demanding safety and security for the citizens of the country.

Bangladesh’s shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan who is said to have ties with transport unions in the country; made an inconsiderate comment which sparked outrage worldwide. He questioned the apparent hypocrisy of the students for keeping mum on a recent crash in India which killed 30 people. After the remark, he was asked to resign from his post but he immediately issued an official apology as well as visited one of the victim’s families to conveniently save face. The protests are proving to be negative for the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the incident occurring a few months prior to the general election in December. The opposition party is taking advantage of the situation to pursue a political vendetta by supporting the student protesters. It is highly amusing how a social issue can be used for political gains with the right amount of manipulation and tactics.

The incident has not only made the country numb but foreign embassies are issuing strict travel alerts as well. Students and citizens from different parts of the world are supporting the victims and the protesters. Bringing the issue at hand to light is the first step towards revolution and denying that right to anyone is not the role assigned to the media.

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