A mark of a civilized society is the ability of the state to deal harshly with mob rule. What happened a few days ago on Airport Road, and for long hours, was a blatant defiance of social rules and laws. Two factions of the Tableegh Jamaat locked themselves in clashes, which is understandable given the nature of personal and organizational narrow interests we in this country have become accustomed to. But the cardinal sin of these clerics, who remind people of God and the hereafter day in and day out, was to occupy a road that is of critical importance for citizens. Thousands of people trying to reach the airport in order to catch flights were stranded and so were people who wanted to bid them farewell or welcome visitors coming home from abroad.
The role of the law enforcers inevitably raises questions here. They could easily have gone into action against these people brazenly holding tens of thousands of people hostage to their whims through commandeering the road. The men of the Tableegh Jamaat should have been dispersed early on, within moments of their coming to blows with one another. The fact, though, is that the police and other personnel deployed to maintain order simply failed to do their job. There can be no excuse for anyone here to explain the lapse. It cannot be said that the mob was too big and fierce to be tackled. If some years ago it was possible to flush out the tens of thousands of Hefazatis who planned to take hold of the capital city, one can have no reason to suggest that the police cannot deal with situations like the one we experienced yesterday.
The ugliness manifested on Airport Road the other day should serve as a lesson for the authorities. It is improper and rather indecent to give space to a mob and thereby hold an entire city hostage to its sinister activities. In future, it should be the aim of the authorities, particularly the police, RAB and other bodies, to see to it that no individual or organization has the temerity to seize any road and indeed anything that is public property or meant for public use and subject citizens to grave discomfort. Who will explain the trauma people went through because of these warlike Tableeghis? And how does one explain to people arriving in the country or planning to go abroad that it is simply not possible to deal with these road brigands, that indeed everything is done according to their will?
It is indeed a pity that we are regularly faced with such embarrassing situations. And then there is the fact that no one appears to be worried about it. Small wonder then that indiscipline seems to be present everywhere.