The authorities have informed us that the prime accused in the daylight murder of a young man in Barguna last week has been killed in a 'gunfight'. Once again we are in a situation where the law has become a casualty. Every murder not investigated to its ultimate conclusion is a casualty. When the young Rifat Sharif was hacked to death by a gang of goons last week, it was expected that his killing would be swiftly looked into and those involved in it would face proper justice. Among those accused was Nayan, who has now died in a 'gunfight', a happening which once again undermines the rule of law and that too at the hands of those who should be upholding the rule of law. Every 'gunfight' is a means of saving the godfathers of crime in this country. We have had the terrible misfortune of seeing criminals dispatched by the law enforcers and security forces through 'gunfights' and 'crossfires'. But none of that has affected their patrons and godfathers, who have gone on to produce fresh new classes of criminals.

The broad daylight murder of Rifat Sharif in Barguna reflects the state of law and order in the country. It is without question a condemnation of us all, for we have all grown accustomed to conditions where blatant crimes and brazen impunity happen to be becoming a norm in Bangladesh. What makes the tragedy even more outrageous is that while Rifat's wife went to every possible length on the scene to save him, not one person among those watching the horrifying, unfolding tragedy came forward to help the unfortunate young man. That says a whole lot about the psychology which defines us today. Or should we say that the powerful and the influential, surrounded by their hangers-on and paid goons, have created the conditions where fear has been drilled into us, enough to make us fall silent in the face of crimes openly committed?

Within a day or two of the murder, the High Court directed the authorities in Barguna to investigate the crime and submit a report to it. Our question is simple: while the assailants were pouncing on Rifat Sharif before Barguna Government College, why were there no police on the scene or why did they not appear considering that all this tragedy was being enacted in public? The killing of Rifat Sharif brings before us once again the spectre of how injustice eats away at our values and our social order. And now the death of the prime accused in the case in a 'gunfight' only underscores the poor state of justice in the land.

It is a tale not of the law taking its own course, but of the law getting conveniently thwarted.

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