Failing to respect and protect teachers is a national disgrace

THE death of university professor Utpal Kumar Sarkar after being beaten by a student and the public humiliation of university principal Swapan Kumar Biswas are shocking. The teacher at Haji Yunus Ali School and College in Savar died two days after a student beat him on June 25 and seriously injured him. Earlier, the teacher allegedly reprimanded the student for harassing and harassing female students. The acting principal of Mirzapur United Degree College in Narail, meanwhile, was assaulted and humiliated in the presence of law enforcement officials on June 18 on allegations of “sectarian provocations”. A crowd put a garland of shoes around the teacher’s neck as police escorted him to the police station after a day of unrest at the education facility. In the murder incident, the student seems to have thought he enjoyed a kind of impunity by beating the teacher because two members of his family hold important positions on the school’s governing committee. Attempts to rescue the defendant also appear to be underway as the First Information Report states he is 16 while school records state he is 19. All of this needs to be thoroughly investigated.

In the case of the public humiliation of the teacher, the Minister of the Interior seeks to say that it is a “sudden” incident, which is highly unlikely. This incident is by no means “sudden” and certainly not isolated. Reports of attacks and harassment of teachers repeatedly made headlines. In March, when a science and math teacher at a school in Munshiganj discussed science and religion in class, the school administration filed a complaint against him for hurting religious feelings. The teacher was later arrested and sent to prison. The lack of accountability, the impunity enjoyed by the culprits and the lack of fair investigations into such incidents explain why the situation has reached such a point. Although the role of vested interests in many such cases has been reported in the past, no visible action has been taken against these neighborhoods most of the time. The garland of shoes was put around the teacher’s neck in the presence of law enforcement, which raises questions about the role played by law enforcement. The teacher was still wearing the garland when the police took him to the police station. What stopped law enforcement from removing the shoe garland? A group of citizens who criticized police inaction justified their outrage. Therefore, an apology from the Home Secretary for such a shameful act will not suffice if such incidents are to be stopped.

The government must therefore ensure justice in both cases by bringing all parties involved to justice. Conscientious sections of society must also speak out against such attacks on teachers.