The recent tragedy at the Dhaka University campus involving a woman being dragged for more than a kilometre under a car by a reckless driver is no doubt a chilling story that shocked all, but is that arguably all that happened that fateful day?

Rubina Akter was travelling with her brother-in-law on a motorbike when suddenly a private car hit their bike from behind. This caused her to fall on the ground, be trapped under the car and be dragged all the way to Nilkhet when finally the onlookers were able to stop the car and reach to her aid. She clearly suffered a lot of injuries which she later succumbed to at the hospital, that very evening.

Without a doubt, the reckless driver (former DU teacher) is responsible for her death and deserves the punishment he is entitled by law for his irresponsible act. There is no argument there. But if we are to go over the facts again, then there is an underlying truth being overlooked by everyone in this tragedy. When the car initially hit the bike and caused the woman to fall, any sane driver would stop the car and get out to help. But in this scenario, he didn’t stop but reportedly “accelerated the car out of fear” and dragged the victim to her death. Now, what is this fear that the driver had most likely felt of at that time?

In my opinion, it is the “mad mob beatings” mentality that caused the driver to grow this instant fear. Such types of beatings are so prevalent in Bangladesh that even The Daily Star have reported such numerous encounters. I have personally seen many such fights break out on the road during my casual commutes. So any reasonable person will fear for their life from the passersby of this country during any accident. This is also common in India or around South-East Asia but is rarely reported in the West. Given that is the practice in Bangladesh, could it be argued that the driver had an instant apprehension for his life at the time of the accident and foolishly made the wrong choices in trying to save his own life from a potential mob?

Henceforth, there is no doubt as to the irrational choices made by the driver in hitting the motorbike from behind and accelerating the car after. He is undeniably liable for his actions and must be punished against the law. But is he solely responsible for his acts? Is society at all responsible for cultivating a mob lynching culture that may have led the driver to fear for his life and cause another’s death? If the answer is a yes, even a partial yes, then the government needs to do more work than only regulating campus or road safety. The government must consider the issue of “mob justice” on roads seriously, to avoid any indefensible killings happening on the road again in the near future.   

Masuma Afroz, Associate

©Lima & Associates 2022

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